rows of solar panels

Solar Energy

SPE are an MCS accredited renewable energy installer specialising in Photovoltaic Systems, we are also REAL Assurance Scheme Listed.

Solar Energy is a vast resource which is currently underutilised in the United Kingdom. SPE have invested a lot of time and resources in this technology because we believe there is an important place for Solar Electrical Generation in the future of power generation and usage.

What is it?

Solar photovoltaic (PV) uses energy from the sun to create electricity. This electricity can then be stored and used to run equipment or, more commonly, fed directly back into the national generation grid earning the owner money. PV requires only daylight (not necessarily direct sunlight) - to generate electricity.

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...

PV systems generate no greenhouse gases, saving approximately 455kg of carbon dioxide emissions per year (for each kilowatt peak) adding up to about 11 tonnes over a system's lifetime. kWp refers to the amount of energy a PV cell or array can generate at any one time under a set amount of full sun light.

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 membranes to provide shading. As well as enabling you to generate free electricity they can provide an interesting alternative to conventional roof tiles.

Solar PV and your home

You can use PV 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 installer.

Cost

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, the space available and the budget.

For the average domestic system, costs can be around £1,000- £2,000 per kWp installed, the average domestic system is usually between 1.5 and 4 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.

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.

UK Feed-in Tariffs

The UK government introduced new tariffs in April 2010 for those generating electricity on a small scale, these new tariffs meant far better earning potential for small scale generators. Payback time improved and, at last, the industry looked set to expand at a reasonable rate.

Unfortunately those boom times didn't last; the incoming government did not see Renewable Energy as high on their list of priorities. Initially they attempted to slash the tariffs that thousands had signed up for, this was illegal and SPE contributed to a legal fund initiated by Solar Century Ltd to fight the government's plans.

Thankfully after numerous government appeals the law of the land prevailed, those already signed up to the energy tariffs saw their agreements honoured. Effectively, this meant that any tariff introduced by both the old and current governments had to be adhered to by law. Unfortunately the government then proceeded to slash any new tariffs making a huge dent in a promising industry.

Finally a new system was introduced by which the tariffs would drop in line with the amount of systems installed over a given period of time. The tariffs still offer incentives although they will never be as good as the first Feed-in Tariffs, it should be stressed that even now, a well designed and installed system can offer good returns and save clients quite a lot on their energy bills.

Quality, Standards and Workmanship

It was somewhat inevitable that with the boom times came the cowboys and start-up companies. Despite attempts at quality control, an awful lot of sub-standard work was carried out. It is only now, when things have calmed down, that this is becoming apparent. SPE were in the industry long before the boom and we are still in the industry long after the boom. We not only maintain a steady number of installs but we are increasingly called upon to carry out repairs and investigations on shoddy and sub-standard systems.

We can offer systems at very competitive rates and have the resources to install systems of 50kw and above. We are accredited service partners of Fronius UK Ltd and can therefor fault find, service or exchange Fronius inverters under warranty. We are becoming increasingly experienced in the investigation, redesign and repair of existing PV Systems and can offer a service that won't necessarily render the system a financial disaster. We have also provided our expertise to insurance companies where the installer has gone bust or disappeared leaving the insurance company to pick up the pieces.

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Call us

Our surveys are free and we will happily provide in-depth designs and analysis to every potential customer. We try to provide the best quality equipment whilst ensuring value for money, your system may not be the cheapest price around but it will stand the test of time. All equipment and material installed will be suitably accredited and sourced from reputable companies offering warrantees and guarantees.

Solar types

    On Roof

  • A proven and reliable solution for all common types of roofs and roofing. Systems can be installed to available roof space.
  • In Roof

  • Roof integration of solar technology with streamlined appearance. Replaces conventional tiling.
  • Complete Roof

  • These types of installations allow photovoltaic modules to be installed across an entire roof replacing conventional roofing material. Roof windows can be incorporated into the array.
  • Flat Roof

  • For flat roofs, e.g. bungalows or garages Especially easy installation with frames that are either fixed by weights or which can be mechanically fixed to the building structure.
  • Façades

  • Module installation as a partial or complete façade especially if no suitable roof surfaces are available.
  • Canopy

  • Interesting alternative for awkward roof situations. In addition to generating electricity canopy installed photovoltaic modules protect against the elements and provide shading.