The onset of the Government’s feed-in tariff incentive in 2010 resulted in a surge in solar panel installations up and down the country. This makes December 21st 2012 possibly the UK’s most monitored Winter Solstice in history as a new swathe of sun worshippers is watching, logging and consuming its own free electricity.
Peter Leith of Warwickshire-based independent renewable energy specialist, GreenACT, meets these sun gods and goddesses every day. Now, he reckons he has met the most fanatical of them all – Ian Stevenson, a part-time flight instructor, with a degree in electronics, of Westwood Heath in Coventry.
“I can monitor the output from the panels’ inverters, updated every ten seconds via the web-based app I use,” says Stevenson, who lives with wife Karen in a five bedroomed detached house, the power for which is now boosted by a 16 panel, 4 kW peak solar PV system from GreenACT. “It’s all become a bit addictive and I am known by friends and family for going on about how much energy I’ve generated all year round, even in winter. I also take weekly manual readings and enter the information into my own database, overlaying it with 12 months’ gas and electricity usage data I collected prior to the installation. Thanks to the panels installed by GreenACT over a year ago, we have reduced our annual electricity bill by £260 and earn £1,500 from the electricity generated and by selling excess power back to the national grid.
“The solar PV system has changed our lifestyle,” continues Stevenson. “Not only are we saving around £260 per year in electricity bills, the addition of the solar panels has completely changed our relationship with energy. We have dramatically reduced our consumption now we are tracking it so thoroughly and we try and use electrical appliances during the day when we consume only the power we generate ourselves. Through my gadgets and careful calculations, we can turn our gas off for most of the summer and effectively heat the hot water tank for free.”
“According to Which figures, customers can save up to 25 percent every on electricity bills as energy from the sun is transferred into energy via the solar PV systems, which is then either consumed by the house or sold into the national grid,” says Peter Leith, director of GreenACT. “Via the governments Feed in Tariff programme, homeowners can still earn over 15p for every kWh of energy produced by solar PV so they still pose as an attractive investment for those wanting to do their bit for the environment, and their wallet!”