You may have heard on the news, read in the papers or online about the new government scheme that means you can get free solar panels for your home. There are indeed companies offering to fit solar photovoltaic panels on your home for free but you want to know the facts, are they really free?
This has all come about because of the new tariff that has been implemented called FITs (feed in tariff) that means if you generate electricity either for your own use or to sell back to the grid then your electricity supplier will pay you for it. This tariff is due to last for a guaranteed 25 years for solar power. Although other forms of renewable energy are support the payback for solar PV is particularly generous hence the willingness of private companies to fit solar panels to your home free of charge.
Contrary to popular opinion solar panels do not need direct sunlight to generate electricity. They can produce free electricity even on cloudy days although the brighter the light the better they work. To get the best out of them they need to be pointed towards where the sun is in the sky the most and that is in the south. This means that one of the requirements to get these free panels is to have a roof facing approximately south.
Yes they really are free but they are not being offered directly by the government to households. It is actually the private sector that are offering the free panels. They can do this because of the generous FITs scheme which means that the companies will very quickly make their money back in addition to a hefty profit.
Most of the companies offering free solar do say that you will be able to keep the solar panels. More importantly all the electricity generated by the panels once they have been fitted will be yours to keep. Maybe not to keep as such but use which means you will need less electricity from your electricity provider. In essence it will mean lower electricity bills for you.
The private companies get the lucrative tariff from the electricity companies paid directly to them. This means that for every kWH your panels generate they will get paid. The excess electricity that you do not use up will also attract a payment when it is sold back to the electricity company. Over the 25 years that the scheme is guaranteed for these private companies will make more than enough to cover the initial cost of the panels which is why they are more than happy enough to provide and fit them for free now.
The question is do you want free electricity? There is absolutely no cost to you so you have nothing to lose. After the 25 years most companies have stated that you can keep the panels and still use any electricity that they generate.
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In 2010 the UK invested 3.3 billion dollars on clean energy technologies, half of this went on offshore wind farms. Germany invested 41.2 billion the same year, over 12 times as much.
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