Solar Power - hidden costs
1:38pm 10th March 2010
Solar power is all the rage at the moment, we had a look at some quotes and found it is not as good a deal as it looks.
Solar power - the hidden costs
We were recently looking at whether we should invest in a Solar powdered electrical generation facility (otherwise called a solar panel
So like everybody else we got a few quotes in. The first surprise was the sheer range of the quotes for essentially the same spec output final system, so either there are some very cheap components going around or someone is making a bucket out of this..
Then we actually did a cost benefit analysis, i.e. given an investment of X in solar what do we get back and how does it compare to other options (i.e. the do nothing for now approach).
Well this got quite interesting, as out of this I developed an online tool
to help work out whether it is worth it or not.
Well, we have decided not to invest in solar at this stage, for the following reasons:
- If one takes into account the 'life' of each component (wiring, solar cells, inverter, etc) - the ongoing replacement costs outside of warranty wipe out any savings made.
- The technology behind solar cells is constantly evolving, the 'best' current solar cells only manage 19% sun energy conversion at the current cost point. We reckon the solar cells either need to get about 25% more efficient, or their cost to drop 25% before we will look at it again.
- We did not want to cash in our REC's - as the whole point of doing this is to make the environment better by withholding Carbon from the market, rather than giving polluters a mechanism to keep on polluting. We also have our own concerns over whether Co2 trading is actually going to achieve anything constructive for the environment.
What would we recommend you do? Well, if you have no mains power available, solar is the obvious option for you. The other thing to take into account is how long the advantageous feed in tariffs will keep running, as they in effect determine the base line 'profit' from the solar system, without that unused power is just a waste.