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Solar power

A guide to solar power

Solar power uses the sun's energy to generate electricity and currently provides around 6% of the UK’s total electricity supply. Installing a solar panel system on the roof of your property could reduce your energy bills and help fight climate change.

Background to solar power
Next steps on your solar power journey
Installation, export payments and storage
Case study

Background to solar power

As of October 2019 there were around a million solar power installations in the UK, ranging from small domestic systems to the large solar farms which supply around half of all UK solar power.

What are solar panels?

Solar panel electricity systems capture the sun's energy using photovoltaic (PV) cells which are made from layers of semi-conducting material, usually silicon, and convert the sunlight into electricity. The stronger the sunshine, the more electricity is produced, but the cells can still generate some electricity on a cloudy day.

PV cells come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most systems are made up of panels that fit on top of an existing roof, or you can fit solar tiles which are designed to be used in place of ordinary roof tiles, although these are not normally as cost-effective as panel systems.

What are the benefits of installing solar panels?

As the power of the sun is free, once you have paid for the installation of your system, the electricity it generates is free, although you will still need to pay for any additional electricity you use from the grid. Some installation companies will also offer additional servicing packages to ensure your system keeps running safely and efficiently.

How much would it cost to install solar panels for my home?

The cost of solar panels has plummeted in the last ten years due to advancements in technology but the cost of the solar panel system you need for your property will depend on its size and power needs. 

According to the Energy Saving Trust, the average domestic solar PV system with a capacity of 3.68kW costs around £4,800 to install and can generate between 3,400 – 4,200 kilowatt hours of electricity a year – enough to power an average home.

How much would it cost to install solar panels for my business?

The most popular systems for businesses have a 5 – 9kW output for small offices costing around £8,000 but a larger commercial operation such as a factory may require a system with an output of 25kW – 200kW and cost significantly more. 

Use the Energy Saving Trust solar energy calculator to find out whether a solar panel system is suitable for your home or business.

Why is solar power better for the environment?

Solar power does not release any harmful CO2 into the atmosphere, so a small domestic PV system could help you reduce your carbon footprint by around 1.3 to 1.6 tonnes of CO2 per year, the same as the emissions produced from an average passenger car driving 4,000 miles.

Next steps on your solar power journey

Here's where to go for more advice on installing solar panels at your home or business.
 


Installation, export payments and storage

Installation

Installing and connecting your generation and storage to the electricity network, including guidance on how to find a recommended supplier.

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Export payments

Surplus energy from your renewable energy system can be exported to the grid to be used by somebody else.

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Storage

Storage allow you to use more of the clean energy you have generated, helping you to reduce your energy bills and emissions.

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Case study

Installing solar panels saves £21,000 a year in energy bills for our training academy

Read more