Monday, 16 May 2011


I have for some time been giving thoughts to perhaps maybe investigating the possibility of installing solar panels on the roof to produce electricity. It's not something that has been in my mind continually but I have contemplated the idea sporadically for two or three years. In both England and France one sees small solar panels beside road signs and I know of a swimming pool in France that is heated by solar energy. This latest bout of meditation was brought about by an article in a supplement to yesterday's paper - one I rarely glance at but which caught my eye on this occasion.

We do have an ideal roof - south facing, uncluttered and unshaded by trees or, indeed, anything else. But there would be a considerable outlay involved. So what benefits would I receive for my expenditure?

Obviously I would reduce the cost of my electricity. If the solar panels were to produce sufficient, I might even get my electricity for nothing. Indeed, if there were to be a surplus to my requirements, that surplus would be "sold" to the national grid. On top of that, the Government would pay me for all electricity produced - even the electricity used by me - and the rate of payment is index-linked for a period of 25 years. Provided a future Government doesn't move the goalposts. On average, I understand, the cost of installation is £12,000 and this could generate savings and income of nearly 10% per annum, much better than any savings account is offering.

But what about the cons? The biggest seems to be the as yet unknown question of whether the installation would make a house more difficult to sell. I have seen arguments both ways, but I live in Brighton and here we have elected the country's first (and so far, only) member of the Green Party as our Member of Parliament. The Greens are also the biggest party on our local council. That would seem to indicate that the installation of solar panels would be a plus when it comes to selling a house in this town. In any case, I doubt we will be looking to sell for many years so the "problem" might look completely different by the time we do come to sell.

One thing that does rather concern me is that there could be considerable improvements to the technology over the fairly short term - after, of course, I have installed a system. But that always applies to just about every aspect of life.

I shall continue to mull this over - but I may well call on the people ropund the corner who have solar panels on their roof just to find out what their experience has been.

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