Demand for Solar Panels Set to Surge as Payback Time Plummets

Dale Potts
Payback time for solar photovoltaic (PV) panels will be slashed from around 50 years to just 15 when new feed-in tariffs come into effect. The new tariffs will enable households and businesses who install sustainable energy generating systems to claim a fee for surplus energy.

Calculations by cost and project management consultancy Faithful+Gould show that payback time for solar photovoltaic (PV) panels will be slashed from around 50 years to just 15 when new government feed-in tariffs come into effect on 1 April.

Feed-in tariffs will reward households, businesses and communities who install low carbon electricity generating systems by enabling them to claim payments for the electricity they produce. This will cause an explosion in demand for generating systems similar to that already seen in Germany.

Sustainability director Sean Lockie says,

"Germany has had feed-in tariffs for more than a decade and as a result has one of the largest PV markets in the world. The UK now seems set to follow suit.

"Installing a PV roof to an average home costs around £12,000. Until now the long payback time has meant it hasn't been a viable option for most UK homeowners. However, the feed-in tariff will improve return on investment so that installing PV is the sensible option for anybody staying in their home long term."

Faithful+Gould used one of the company's carbon tools applications to work out the likely impact of the tariffs. Under the scheme, homeowners will be paid 41p per kWh (36.1p for new homes) for electricity from PV panels, a tax-free income of around £600 pa for 25 years, rising with inflation. In addition, an average household will save around £200 pa in energy costs. Therefore payback for installing PVs will be possible within 15 years at current energy prices.

"This could have a fundamental impact on the household energy landscape," adds Lockie. "It is important to stress that other factors such as good building design are more important in the journey towards zero carbon housing. But this represents a significant incentive in the drive to make the UK's energy generation cleaner and greener."