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. 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. In spite of the dramatic decrease in price, the initial cost of solar panels is still significant and thus the Feed-in Tariff (Fit) scheme continues to serve as a welcome incentive to invest into this renewable source of energy.
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.
Moreover, it is good to know that If your home qualifies, a solar company may offer to install solar panels worth up to £8,000 for free and even pay for maintenance and connection charges. In return, the company collects any profit from the FiT scheme that your photovoltaic panels generate.