Increasingly, householders are becoming switched on to the benefits of solar photovoltaics (PV).

The opportunity to cut those dreaded electricity bills is the initial driving force behind many a decision to go solar. But as people embark on their “solar explorations”, they soon discover lowering their energy bills is not the only reason to embrace PV.

 Many are pleasantly surprised to learn that on top of those electricity savings they can also make a pretty generous return through the feed-in tariff (FIT). This is part of the government’s Clean Energy Cashback scheme, whereby householders are paid for generating their own “green electricity” – even if they use it – as well as any surplus electricity which is exported back to the grid.
 The Clean Energy Cashback scheme, introduced on April 1st, 2010, has transformed the general perception of solar.
 In the past, solar PV had the reputation of being prohibitively expensive, with long payback periods. All this has changed and it is now regarded as one of the best investments currently available, with the average domestic system realising an annual return of around 14%.
The scheme was introduced to reward householders, businesses and communities for investing in micro-generating technologies, such as solar PV. It is designed to pay an income based on the amount of electricity produced which is tax free for domestic installations and guaranteed for 20 years.
And finally, there’s the added environmental benefit. Solar electricity is green, renewable energy which doesn’t release any harmful carbon dioxide or other pollutants into the atmosphere. A typical home solar PV system could reduce a household’s carbon emissions by more than a tonne a year – that’s more than 30 tonnes over its lifetime.
All of the above is very good news for solar householders and business owners during the summer months – indeed, 2014 has gone down as one of the hottest summers on record. Reflecting this, we have heard from a number of our long-standing solar PV customers, thrilled to report a summer of “personal bests” when it comes to generating their own free electricity.
But now the dark mornings are upon us and the nights have drawn in, are solar households and businesses still reaping the benefits of their PV? Surely solar is not a viable means of generating electricity during the winter months?
Happily, this is most certainly not the case. Solar panels work on light not heat, meaning they continue to generate electricity during the winter – although, understandably, they will produce proportionately less energy due to the decrease in daylight hours.
And, contrary to a common misconception brought about by the early clunky years of solar, a good system will still contribute on most cloudy days. Thanks to modern technology, solar cells are able to harvest sufficient scattered light caused by cloud cover and still contribute to a home’s energy needs.
Production figures vary depending on cloud density but, as an example, electricity production on a cloudy, overcast day can reach about 20 per cent of that generated on a brighter, sunny, summer’s day – which is still a decent amount of free energy.
And if we do get a dusting of the white stuff this winter, which can prevent the technology from absorbing light, if you look at any southerly facing roof after a snowfall, the snow very quickly disappears.
The energy which went into melting that snow is the same energy which will power your panels.