The cost of solar photovoltaic panels has dropped by 70 per cent since the UK government introduced the Feed-in Tariff scheme in 2010 and prices are expected to keep falling as technologies improve. In fact, the prices have become so affordable that the UK government has decided to close the Feed in Tariff scheme entirely in 2019.
While you needed some £20,000 to buy a 4kW solar PV installation in 2010, four years later the median cost for the same installation was £7,500.
It may not come as a big surprise then that at the end of 2014, almost 650,000 solar panel installations were completed in the UK.
Read more: Solar Panel Cost
The most popular solar panel brands in the UK are Canadian Solar, Yingli, Sharp, Solarworld and Suntech Solar, and there is not a great difference in price and quality among them as they use similar components and materials. An average 4kWp solar PV system would costs between £6,000 and 8,000 including VAT. Such a system can generate around 3,800 kilowatt hours of electricity a year in the south of England, which roughly corresponds to typical household’s needs.
However, some solar panels are more efficient and produce more power from a smaller surface area. Monocrystalline solar panels, made from high-grade silicon, are the most efficient and most expensive and would be the best choice if you have a small roof. If your roof is large enough to fit in a long row of solar panels, you may consider buying the most common, less efficient but overall cheaper polycrystalline or amorphous (thin film) panels.
Read more: Solar Panel Guide
Some More Details About The FIT
In order to be eligible for the FiT, however, it is important that the solar panels as well as the solar panel installers are accredited under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). A list of qualified solar panel installers can be found on the MSC website and experts recommend to ask for at least three quotes to get the best price.
The FiT lasts for the first twenty years of your installation and pays off more the more energy your panels produce. If earning more money is your priority, you may want to invest in a bigger or a more efficient panel. Based on a 3.5kW system you can make about £14,000 in savings and earning in the Feed-in Tariff’s lifetime.
Additionally, while most PV systems are made up of panels that fit on top of an existing roof, it is also possible to get solar tiles used in place of ordinary roof tiles. These typically cost about twice as much and are usually only considered where panels cannot be installed for aesthetic or planning reasons.
If you are interested in investing in solar panels for your home, we recommend you act quickly in order to still benefit for the Feed in Tariff in the UK. This government scheme is ending on 31 March 2019, but if you submit your application in time you could still benefit from payments over the next 20 years.
Applications for Solar PV Feed in Tariff Close in March
Read our guide on how you can still benefit from the solar PV Feed in Tariff before it ends in March 2019.