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Solar Photovoltaics or Solar PV

What is Solar PV?

Solar PV panels capture solar energy to generate electricity which can be used to power appliances in the home or business, or if not required fed into the national grid.

What are the benefits of Solar PV?

  • Reduce your energy bills – solar PV is powered entirely by nature’s free energy source – the sun.  Using this energy to replace electricity otherwise supplied by the main electricity grid will reduce your electricity cost.  This makes solar PV a complimentary technology to any heat pump installations which will run off electricity.
  • Get paid for the electricity you generate – through the Feed in Tariff scheme you will receive a payment from the government for all the electricity generated even if this is used to power your home or business.
  • Get paid for electricity you do not consume.  If you do not use all the electricity the surplus can be sold to the national grid.
  • Relying entirely on the sun, PV panels provide clean and green electricity without producing any harmful greenhouse gas emissions or other pollutants.
  • With no moving parts. solar PV produces electricity silently and requires little maintenance.

How does Solar PV work?

Solar Photovoltaics

Each solar PV panel is made up from a number of photovoltaic cells, each cell made from layers of a semi-conducting material, most commonly being silicon.  When a cell is exposed to sun light an electric field is created across the layers generating a direct current (DC) between the front and back of the cell where it is conducted away.  When a number of panels are linked together to form an “array” each panel adds to the current.

To make the DC current into electricity household appliances can use it is wired to an inverter which converts the electricity in to an alternating current (AC).

There are a variety of types of solar PC panels including, monocrystaline, polycrystalline and hybrid, each having distinct characteristics in terms of efficiency, output and available in various shapes and sizes.  A panel’s performance is measured in kilowatts peak (kWp) which is a calculation of the generated energy in optimum sunlight conditions.

Solar panels perform best when in direct sunlight though will still produce some electricity in overcast conditions or diffused sunlight.

Is my property suitable for Solar PV?

There are a variety of mounting options for solar panels, the only requirement for a successful installation being that an array has a general southerly aspect and is unshaded.

To ensure maximum solar exposure arrays are commonly mounted on pitched roofs.  These frequently are “on-roof” installations where the array is fixed to the buildings structure by means of an aluminium frame set above the weathering surface – this form of installation is most commonly used for retro fitting an array to an existing building.

Sola PV groundmounted

An alternative is to opt for an “in-roof” array, suitable for new builds or major renovations where the tiles or slates are yet to be fixed enabling the PV panels to be set in a tray and around which the roof covering can be laid providing a unified appearance.

If there are no suitable pitched roofs available solar PV panels can be mounted on aluminium frames fastened to flat roofs or directly to the ground where space permits.  This allows panels to be located with optimum alignment to the suns maximising returns.

Do I require Planning Consent to install Solar PV?

Solar panels for the majority of installations under 50kWp output are considered permitted development and do not require planning consent.  There are exceptions to this rule which includes where panels are to project more than 200mm above the roof line or if the property is listed or is located in a planning sensitive area such as a conservation area, national park or AONB.  Ground mounted systems, other than those of less than 9m² (subject to conditions) will require planning permission.

Are there any other requirements to consider before we install Solar PV?

For domestic properties to qualify for the full Feed in Tariff the property must attain at least a “D” Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).  A solar PV installation will improve a properties EPC rating and it may be the installation of solar PV panels will enable a property that otherwise would not achieve a D rating to meet this standard.  For properties rated “E” and below the FiT will be paid at the “Lower Rate” which is substantially lower rate than the full “Higher Rate” tariff.

For installations with a peak output in excess of 3.68kWp on a single phase supply, or 11kWp for three phase, DNO (District Network Operator) for permission to connect to the local electricity grid. is required.  Consent may only be granted on payment of the DNO’s costs to upgrade cables or transformers.

It may be necessary where a roof mounted installation is being considered to undertake a structural survey to ensure the structure of the building can cope with the imposed loads of wind and panel weight.

To find out more about solar PV please see FAQs.

If you would like to discuss how solar PV could benefit your project please contact Fervo Renewable Energy on 0333 240 2121 or make an enquiry.