Can Solar Power Really Work For Me?
By Hayley Jones
Solar power and other forms of renewable energy are becoming more widespread on a domestic scale in light of growing concerns about the affect of the use of fossil fuels on the environment, the fact that their supply is diminishing and rising energy costs. When it comes to the UK climate, the effectiveness of solar power can come into question, but harnessing solar energy can actually be an excellent way of producing either electricity or heat. Solar panels do not need intense sunlight to generate power or heat, daylight being sufficient.
There are essentially two types of solar power available on a domestic level. Solar photovoltaic power produces electricity whilst solar thermal energy heats water. Solar thermal energy is usually the more cost effective of the two options with prices for a typical home installation starting at about £3000. Government grants can bring this down further, and you can reasonably expect the system to
provide you with approximately half of your hot water requirements over a year. Solar photovoltaic panels are somewhat more expensive, starting at about £8000 (again, grants are available towards the cost), making the payback somewhat longer. A typical domestic installation should generate enough power for about half your annual requirements.
As of April 2008 it is no longer necessary to seek planning permission for solar installations on homes, making it easier to set about benefiting from solar power. To ensure that you get the best payback from an installation it is important that the panels are southeast to southwest facing and not overshadowed by obstructions such as trees.
Solar power is a pollution-free way of producing energy, and will reduce your home’s carbon emissions significantly. Once the installation is in place the ‘fuel’ is, of course, free, and solar systems tend to require minimal maintenance.
Hayley Jones is the Web Marketing Director for www.uk-energy-saving.com. For more information on solar power visit www.uk-energy-saving.com/solar_power.html.
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