Mick Fairfield is a scientist, businessman, ecologist, electronics expert and archaeologist among other skills - in other words, a very interesting man with a wide range of interests from forestry to neolithic culture. He's recently invested in solar energy creation at his home in the Lakes, and he took a moment to pen these lines to tell us how you can do the same.
Investing in renewable energy sources has become an attractive option since the introduction of a government sponsored Feed in Tariff (FIT) to reward individuals installing small photo voltaic systems to generate electricity from sunlight. A typical system consists of an array of solar panels fitted to a south facing roof with an un-obstructed view of the Sun. The power generated by these panels is harvested by an Inverter which converts it to mains voltage and fed directly to the domestic power system. Costing under £10,000 to install, a system generating 2.0-2.5 kW is ideally matched to domestic needs and will pay for the investment in typically 10 years, with a lifespan of 25 years.
So what are the rewards other than the warm feeling of saving the planet and joining the green revolution? The main income is from the FIT which pays 43.3p for every kWh ( electrical unit as seen on your bill ) generated, this figure is index linked, guaranteed for 25 years and tax free ( just like an ISA). In addition to the FIT your electricity supplier will assume that you export half of the kWhs generated and pay you an additional 3.1p for these, again tax free. If you use electrical appliances when your system is generating then the energy is supplied by the Sun and is not drawn through the electricity meter thus saving typically 12p-14p for each unit, and the cost of electricity is likely to rise each year so it pays to run the washing machine, dish washer etc on bright sunny days.
Even in Cumbria there is enough sunshine to generate 1880 kWhs from a 2.35kW system. Combining the FIT and half the Export tariff this give a tax free income of £843.18 per year. In addition you would expect the electricity bills to reduce by the proportion of power generated and used in house. Now add in the yearly indexed rises of the FIT and Export tariff, and the increasing cost of electricity, to give a seriously attractive tax free investment with satisfying green credentials.
M. J. Fairfield.
While we're on the topic of sunshine why not read a lovely article by David Stevenson 'Foundations for Life'.