Solar photovoltaic (solar PV) technology
Solar panel electricity systems, also known as solar photovoltaics (PV), capture the sun’s energy using photovoltaic cells. The cells convert the sunlight into electricity, which can be used to run household appliances and lighting. Excess electricity can then be fed back into the grid earning you money back.
How do solar panels (PV) cells work?
PV cells are made from layers of semi-conducting material, usually silicon. When light shines on the cell it creates an electric field across the layers. This electric is fed into an inverter which enables you to use the electricity you produced. The power of a PV cell is measured in kilowatts peak (kWp). Most PV systems are made up of panels that fit on top of an existing roof, but you can also fit solar tiles.
Solar PV systems are easy to install, need virtually no maintenance and are estimated to last 40 years. They are suitable for use in urban areas which wind or hydro systems don’t tend to be.
The benefits of solar electricity
• Cut your electricity bills. Sunlight is free, so once you’ve paid for the initial installation, your electricity costs will be reduced.
• Get paid for the electricity you generate. The UK government’s Feed-in Tariffs pay you for the electricity you generate, even if you use it.
• Sell electricity back to the grid. If your system is producing more electricity than you need, you can sell the surplus back to the grid.
• Cut your carbon footprint. Solar electricity is green renewable energy and doesn’t release any harmful carbon dioxide or other pollutants.
What is the Feed-in Tariff
If you install an electricity-generating technology from a renewable or low-carbon source such as solar PV, the UK Government’s Feed-in Tariffs scheme (FITs) could mean that you get money from your energy supplier. You can be paid for the electricity you generate, even if you use it yourself, and for any surplus electricity you export to the grid.
Once the solar PV system is installed, the electricity generated will automatically be used in your home. If more electricity is being generated than is being used then the surplus is exported back onto the national grid. The Government’s Feed In Tariff (FIT) will pay for all electricity generated even if this electricity is used in the property.
Click here to download the full table of solar PV feed-in tariff rates
To find out how much you could earn through Feed-in Tariffs for solar PV, try the Energy Saving Trust Solar Energy Calculator.
How do I qualify?
For you to qualify for FITs, the installer and the products you use must both be certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme. The tariffs you receive depend on both the eligibility date and your property’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating.