Solar Panels in Northern Ireland
Solar energy in Northern Ireland is getting popular and this can be proved by the number of solar installations (including solar panels and solar thermal), that has been three times bigger in 2013 than 2012. Northern Ireland receives between 1,000 and 1,100 hours of UV light every year, similar to the Midlands of England where solar PV installations have multiplied in the last years. The reason for this is that energy prices are going up and prices of renewable technologies are going down, making the switch to green energy very attractive to those that can afford the upfront costs.
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How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Northern Ireland? Can I Get Free Solar Panels?
To get the exact price of your domestic solar installation, you will need to get in touch directly with your supplier, which you can do by filling the information form at the top of this page. This is because the price will depend on the type and size of the system chosen, its quality, insurance and installations costs. However, just to have an idea, an average solar panel installation for your home will cost you between £4,000 and £9,000 and it should pay for itself in about five to eight years.
Since this number might be too high for many, free solar panels might sound like a tempting option. This will mean that the solar company will 'rent' your roof and install solar panels free of charge. The roof owner can use the electricity generated by the panels, but the solar company will keep the NIRO tariff (we explain this tariff below) and the money you could get by exporting the unused energy back to the grid. This is a long term commitment lasting for approximately 20 years, and you cannot choose to buy the panels when you have the money for doing so. Therefore, free panels is a good deal only in the case of those who cannot otherwise afford the initial costs of the panel. Otherwise, it is better to buy the panels yourself and make money with them once the investment is paid back.
Are There Grants for Solar Energy in Northern Ireland?
The Feed-in Tariff (FiT) was exclusive for Great Britain and therefore did not apply to Northern Ireland. The main mechanism of support for renewable energy generation in Northern Ireland is the Northern Ireland Renewables Obligation (NIRO), which is led by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI).
The scheme has certain similarities with the FiT; when a business or householder start generating their own energy, they are issued with ROCs based on the technology they are using and the amount of energy produced. These ROCs can be traded with the energy supplier, like when you sell electricity from your solar panels back to the national grid. You can actually sell the electricity you don’t use back to the grid if your energy is supplied by Power NI, and get an additional payment by doing so. You have to keep in mind that the NIRO Scheme is expected to be closed to new applicants as from 2017.
Northern Ireland has also incorporated the Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP), a scheme designed to make it easier to households to afford alternative renewable technologies to heat their homes and get hot water. Your property needs to meet certain requirements to apply for funding from the scheme. A value grant for a solar thermal hot water is £320.
Moreover, if you have a privately owned or rented home and need help paying for heating and insulation improvements, you might qualify for the government’s Warm Homes Scheme. This is designed for people who receive certain qualifying benefits such as income support, pension credit, child tax credit, among others. There are two parts of the scheme, Warm Homes and Warm Homes Plus. The first one offers insulation measures and the second also offers heating measures.
Northern Ireland and Renewable Energy
With its capital in Belfast, Northern Ireland is the least populated country in the UK. The biggest cities are Belfast, Derry, Lisburn, Newtownabbey and Bangor. Climate change is one of Northern Ireland’s most serious environmental, social and economic challenge. This is because sea levels are predicted to rise by approximately 14.5 cm above the 1990 sea level and temperatures are thought to rise by two or three degrees, with significant consequences to the environment. These figures are particularly alarming since we are talking about an island.
Like the rest of the countries in the UK, Northern Ireland has set green targets to be met by 2020. The Executive has set a target to obtain 40% of electricity from renewable sources of energy by 2020. Moreover, it has set a Programme to work towards a reduction in Greenhouse gas emissions by at least 35% on 1990 levels by 2025.
How Can I Find a Solar Supplier in Northern Ireland?
Finding the right solar supplier can consume a lot of time. Moreover, since the required investment is quite significant, you want to make a good purchase which will make you happy during the entire lifespan of the solar system. Therefore, you should compare different suppliers and their respective options and make sure that you pick a reliable and certified supplier. GreenMatch.co.uk is here to help. You can fill the contact form at the top of this page and you will be contacted by up to four professional solar installers with their best offers to suit your particular needs. Our no obligation service is 100% free of charge!