Solar Photovoltaic Systems are covered under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme as an MCS Approved Technology. This means as an MCS Accredited installer you are able to install MCS Accredited Solar PV Panels and offer consumers government Feed in Tariffs.
Solar electricity systems capture the sun's energy using photovoltaic (PV) cells. The cells convert the sunlight into electricity, which can be used to run household appliances and lighting. PV cells don't need direct sunlight to work - you can still generate some electricity on a cloudy day.
How it works
Photovoltaic systems use cells to convert solar radiation into electricity. The PV cell consists of one or two layers of a semi conducting material, usually silicon. When light shines on the cell it creates an electric field across the layers, causing electricity to flow.
The greater the intensity of the light, the greater the flow of electricity.
Photovoltaic Systems generate no greenhouse gases, a typical domestic system can save approximately 1.2 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year - adding up to almost 30 tonnes over a system's lifetime.
PV arrays now come in a variety of shapes and colours, ranging from grey 'solar tiles' that look like roof tiles, to panels and transparent cells that you can use on conservatories and glass to provide shading as well as generating electricity. As well as enabling you to generate free electricity they can provide an interesting alternative to conventional roof tiles!
Solar Photovoltaic Systems
You can use Solar Photovoltaic Systems for a building with a roof or wall that faces within 90 degrees of south, as long as no other buildings or large trees overshadow it. If the roof surface is in shadow for parts of the day, the output of the system decreases.
Solar panels are not light and the roof must be strong enough to take their weight, especially if the panel is placed on top of existing tiles.
Solar PV installations should always be carried out by a trained and experienced MCS Certified installer.
Cost and maintenance
Prices for PV systems vary, depending on the size of the system to be installed, type of PV cell used and the nature of the actual building on which the PV is mounted. The size of the system is dictated by the amount of electricity required.
For the average domestic system, costs can be around £5,000- £7,500 per kWp installed, with most domestic systems usually between 1.5 and 3 kWp. Solar tiles cost more than conventional panels, and panels that are integrated into a roof are more expensive than those that sit on top.
A 2.5kWp array can provide enough electricity to meet around half a households electricity needs, this means a saving of around £250 a year.
If you intend to have major roof repairs carried out it may be worth exploring PV tiles as they can offset the cost of roof tiles.
Grid connected systems require very little maintenance, generally limited to ensuring that the panels are kept relatively clean and that shade from trees has not become a problem. The wiring and components of the system should however be checked regularly by a qualified technician.
Stand-alone systems, i.e. those not connected to the grid, need maintenance on other system components, such as batteries.
The estimated costs are often quickly covered by Feed in Tariffs which can be offered by Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS Accredited) Installers who offer MCS Accredited Solar PV Equipment.