Solar Panels - change of views on this NG?

Last time I looked at solar panel threads there was an overwhelming view that it just didn't make financial sense and the calculations generally didn't take into account the fact that you had to recover your capital and the interest on your capital (if you just saved/invested it) to break even, before you started to make any savings.
Now the recent discussion seems to be more about the immoral use of the subsidies than about the sums not adding up.
When did this change?
Is solar power now a reasonable prospect subject to the usual caveats about unproven long term technology and untrusted long term government policy?
Having a large south facing roof is making me wonder if I should get some quotes. Also a couple of friends who are generally financially savvy are going down this route.
Cheers
Dave R
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On Apr 6, 4:49 pm, "David WE Roberts"

Solarthemal? Solar PV? You forgot to tell us.
NT
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David WE Roberts wrote:

when teh discussion moved from more or les unsubsidised solar water panels to heavily subsidised solar PV

If you want to to put the green capitalist boot on the neck of the working class, and profit by it, yes.

Let me have their names for the database of people to be shot first, come the revolution.

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On Wed, 6 Apr 2011 08:49:40 -0700, David WE Roberts wrote:

To toss another factor into the equation ... While the tech is improving, do you really want to buy now and lumber yourself with a system that could be much less efficient than something that comes out in a few years time?
For example, if you spend Β£12k now and buy a PV system that just about pays its way provided you amortise the cost over 25 years. What could you do if a new development makes systems available that would be lower cost, more efficient and recoup their costs in 10 years?
This is the quandry that early-adopters face in every technology. But for PV it's a more serious question than buying a PC for a few Β£00, only to see a bigger/faster/cheaper system come out a year later.
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root wrote:

No, the problem is how fast can you install before the government axes the subsidy and makes PV permanently uneconomic for everybody connected to the grid.
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Efficiency doesn't matter. You get a return of about 9% for 25 years. This is way better than any annuity on the market so if you can use your pension to buy them you are quids in. If you use them as a savings account things are not as clear cut.
Also the returns are likely to be lower if the costs drop as the government won't need to have such a high incentive to get you to fit them.
There are companies that will install solar PV for free. However they get the FITs and you only get the free electricity.

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On Wed, 6 Apr 2011 20:34:26 +0100, dennis@home wrote:

Presuming you stay in the same house for 25 years. What these devices will do for resale value is unknown. (Esp. if subsidies get axed/reduced or the terms changed so only _original_ installers get them.) Or if they (shock!) don't actually live up to all the hype, apropos output over time, life-expectancy, reliability, next-doors trees shadowing it ...
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And virtual ownership of your roof.
MBQ
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I don't think it did.
ISTM that the people who think that "the sums don't add up" still think that.
The fact that commercial operations think otherwise suggest that the negative opinions are formed from out of date data. I certainly see people make comments such as this is "immature" technology when in fact PV cells were invented more than 30 years ago and the technology is anything but immature.
Having said that, it still seems to me that on most "at the coal face" quotes the finances are marginal, but I suspect that this is more down to the installers inflating the installation costs whilst using smoke and mirrors to make the profits seem larger than they are at that cost, just like they always do with "home improvement" installations, but unlike other home improvements this one lives and dies on its financial benefits as the other "user" benefits are zero.
If I had a suitable roof, I wouldn't enter into any deal other than one where the installer takes all of the risk. If you can't get someone to offer you a deal on that basis then you know that any "purchased" installation is being oversold
tim
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tim.... wrote:

No, the sums still don't add up for solar water heating.
They only add up for PV because the electricity from a PV panel is sold at over ten times what its worth, cost paid by the rest of electricity consumers.
In fact its sold for more than it costs to generate with a diesel generator.
Which is where a lot of 'solar electricity' actually comes from, allegedly.

No, the unbleiveable FITS have been scrapped by DECC. Only domestic installations will now attract these exorbitant gifts. This has killed all commercial PV in this country stone dead, if they don't get it in by IIRC July.

The classic comment was in some blog somewhere where when quizzed by a someone a minister or green spokesperson allegedly said she supported PV FITS because it was an immature unproven technology. At some later point he asks why thorium reactor research was not being given grants 'because its an unproven immature technology' was the alarming reply..

There is no doubt that PV panels at today's tarriffs are extremely profitable. Payback is in months, not years. So you wont be out of pocket even if they only last a couple of years.
But that is a symptom of politics, not the technology.
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Yes, that was taken as read in the question. There is no need to repeat it as a factor in the discussion. It is the discussion.

That is irrelevant to the point of whether commercial operations consider the bulk installation of PV profitable or not based upon the full costs of the equipment. The fact that they do has already been proven by installations that have already gone ahead.

I think that it is only installations on commercial properties that are stopping.
Commercial installations on domestic property (where the owner shares the income) will still be allowed.

I don' think that you have asked for a quote for professional panel installation have you? If you do you will be "sold" a deal that returns about 7-8% (best case), which looks good until you take into account the life of the equipment. Assuming 5% cost of funds, it will take you 40 years to get your money back.
Note, that to receive the feed in tariff you MUST have a professional installation
tim
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On 06/04/2011 18:23, The Natural Philosopher wrote:

That would be 'alleged' by you.
Good call!
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That's a creative conclusion

30 years in a fairly high tech area is very much immature. Look at where petrol cars were in 1920, radios in 1940, TVs in 1955, computers in 1950.
Mature solar pv cells would be low cost enough to be good for widespread use. There is finally interest in going just this direction with commercial cells - the big issue isn't electrical efficiency, its financial efficiency.

The real payback figures are hopeless for PV. Howeevr there are plenty of issues to conveniently overlook to make it look workable.

The motivation to go PV is usually the idea that its a green technology.

indeed... try finding such a deal.
NT
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That's a creative conclusion
TIM- so what's your conclusion?

30 years in a fairly high tech area is very much immature. Look at where petrol cars were in 1920, radios in 1940, TVs in 1955, computers in 1950.
TIM - 30 years is an awful long time in electronics. (15 iterations of Moores' law equals an increase in capability and/or decrease in costs of 30,000 times)

The real payback figures are hopeless for PV. Howeevr there are plenty of issues to conveniently overlook to make it look workable.
TIM - the fact that commercial operations sink their money into it shows that you are wrong. That's when you include the feed in tariff, which is taken as read from the question. (If you want to discuss the situation without that then take your point to a part of the thread that is discussing that)

The motivation to go PV is usually the idea that its a green technology.
TIM - The average punter doesn't "go green" on principle. He only does it if there is something for him as well

indeed... try finding such a deal.
TIM - If you have the right house it is very easy to get.
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Indeed. But too short to reach any kind of maturity with the tougher problems, which include PV, cars, tvs, etc.

not really. If a political party pays me £1000 to invest in a 1% savings account, its still a lacklustre 1% account.

Those that install solar pv arent average punters, they're a very non- average set.

So I now know. But this is solely due to a political agenda payment. And how long that will last who knows. Its a real shame that genuinely innovative useful systems are specifically excluded, making the whole exercise rather pointless.
NT
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Your electricity supplier may well offer just such a deal. It's called "rent a roof". You get free electricity, they get all the subsidised dosh. There's lots of companies out there wants your roof. Problem arises when you want to sell your house.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
I don't believe that problems arise when you want to sell your house (unless you get a very fussy buyer)
tim
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"PV cells" been around a *lot* longer than that. The modern technology is *certainly* immature.

And sign away the rights to your roof. I certainly would not buy a house with copnditions like that attached.
MBQ
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On 06/04/2011 16:49, David WE Roberts wrote:

With the introduction of Feed In Tariffs (FIT) probably.
General consensus was that solar thermal, if assembled cheaply enough can be useful where you can make ready us of a fair amount of low grade heat - swimming pool heating, UFH with a thermal store etc. Just using it for generating domestic hot water is unlikely to ever payback - especially at the costs of commercially fitted systems.
Solar PV, used to be even less plausible in this country - highly unlikely to ever payback within the life of the system if all it is doing is offsetting the cost of electricity bought from the grid.

With the arrival of FIT schemes that are prepared to pay many times the actual value of the electricity you export to the grid, then maybe. There are some things to keep in mind if buying your own system - will it last long enough, and will the FITs remain available for the duration[1].
Another option doing the rounds is a scheme where an operator pays you for the use of the space, and installs their equipment. Obviously the upsides are smaller, but then so are the risks.
[1] In theory you have a contractual lock on the other party to pay the price agreed for the duration, however the cynic in me suspects that the deal is with a subsidiary company of the plc that was setup for the purpose. If it were to convienently go into liquidation at some point you may be stuffed.

--
Cheers,

John.

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It will depend on the details of the contract. I see no reason why someone going in for this should not argue the contract terms with them. Like, who gets ownership of the plant if they go into liquidation.
--
Tim

"That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed,
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On 06/04/2011 21:22, Tim Streater wrote:

Yup agreed, however I was actually thinking of the cases where you buy the kit outright on the understanding that you make enough profit if you get paid 43p/kwh for 25 years. That's a long time in the energy supply business, and to suddenly find that after 7 years your FIT payer vanishes, and you are back to saving grid cost per kwa, you would probably never see a payback.
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Cheers,

John.

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