Solar Energy in Watchet

The use of Solar Energy at 15 Risdon Road, Watchet.

Firstly we did all we could to insulate the building from heat loss.

The bungalow is heated by a wood burner, which does not have a ‘back boiler’.

The alignment of the house is not ideal it faces just south of west. We assumed that solar systems would be at most 75% effective, this has proved to be over optimistic, 50% is a more honest figure. ..

Solar Water Heating:

We installed 4 square meters of ‘flat plate’ solar collectors, which came into use on 8th. August 2009.

The effect is to drastically reduce our consumption of gas. We now have hot water ‘on tap’.

During the winter we need to use some gas to top up the water temperature for baths, 10 minutes as opposed to 45 or longer prior to the use of solar power.

We chose Flat plate collectors as they are low pressure, said to have a longer life, and easier to install. The cost to us was £3,600. In addition we received grant aid of £900.

Good Energy have an arrangement whereby their customers benefit from the ‘HotROC’ scheme. We are paid £23.81 per quarter for heating water using a non-fossil system.

Electricity Generating System:

On the 7th May 2010 we installed 2.3 K/W of Photovoltaic panels.

Since then these have generated more than 10 K/W’s on average of electricity per day. We hope for an average of 7-8 K/W over the year. 2.4K/W is our average daily consumption.

Good Energy will pay us 36.1p for every K/W generated, plus 3p for half of this, which is assumed to be “exported”. This is the “Feed-in Tariff”.

All being well this arrangement should yield us an average net income of nearly £1,000 a year. It’s a no-brainer!

We chose Eco Exmoor to do the work on both systems. They are local. They came when they said they would, subject to the kit being available. They were the lowest quote at £4.29 per watt, other firms were all over £5.00 per watt.

The panels we chose were made in China. They were the cheapest.

The system is doing what we ask of it. Whether it will be cost effective depends on the price of energy, which we assume will go up. Various guesses say by between 25% and 60% depending on which newspaper you read.

We are told that the system has a ‘payback’ time of between 5 and 10 years and a life of 20 to 25 years. The cost was £10,360. There is no grant aid as we now receive Feed in tariff.

We have been asked whether there has been a “saving of cash”. Hopefully there will be, however this not the right question. The ‘goal posts’ are constantly on the move, energy costs rise year by year. Ever since coinage was invented we have been exhorted to “live within our means”. After joining the Solar Age we should consider how little energy we actually need and see how close we can get to this as a target.

The Energy Saving Trust at 1 Caspian Point, Caspian Way, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff. Is a neutral source of information on the subject.

Good Energy on 0845 456 1640 or

Should you wish to have more information from the writer of this Case Study please call Charles Birch on 01984 631 104.

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