Yes! A typical system can save over 1,000 euros each year, pays for itself in under 7 years and is equivalent to planting around 50 trees. The total savings is based on two parts: (i) using PV electricity directly in your home to reduce bills (ii) exporting excess electricity to the grid. These values are obtained from the AirPV calculator and you can check the values for your own home. Try out the calculator and visit the Solar FAQ page for more details on how it works.
Using the electricity in your home gives the best savings as it offsets high electricity costs (currently around 43 cents per kWh including VAT). Any electricity that you don’t use can be exported to the grid for around 21 cents per kWh (about half as good as using the electricity yourself).
And how did we calculate the number of trees? This ‘tree math’ is based on the amount of carbon that you can offset by using a PV system compared with the typical amount removed from the atmosphere by trees. Check out the AirPV website’s Solar FAQ for more details on this.
A typical system will cost around 7,500 euro after the grant has been applied. This is based on the latest average cost figures from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) as seen for completed installations. The price accounts for zero VAT on solar installations, an initiative recently introduced by the government.
However, the cost and quality can vary a lot depending on the installation company. It is recommended that a homeowner gets multiple quotes, uses a trusted installer and goes with a design and PV system that is suited to their needs. Sounds tricky? Well AirPV aims to make this whole process easier and better value by providing a platform that connects homeowners with multiple installers. It is free to use and aims to provide a homeowner with the best experience when going solar. Sign up to get access to an interactive calculator and learn more about solar PV. The marketplace is coming soon where homeowners can connect with trusted installers.
The government provides support in three main ways (i) a grant (ii) export tariff where electricity suppliers must pay for electricity that a homeowner exports (iii) zero VAT for solar installations.
The grant is up 2,400 euro and offsets the initial cost of the PV system. To learn more about the PV grant, head over to the SEAI website.
As part of the Microgeneration Support Scheme (MSS), electricity suppliers are obliged to pay for the excess electricity that a homeowner exports from their PV system (or other renewable energy system). This export tariff is referred to as the Clean Export Guarantee (CEG). More information can be found on the government website.
Lastly, the government recently introduced a zero VAT rate for the ‘Supply and installation of solar panels on and adjacent to public and other buildings used for activities in the public interest, housing and private dwellings’. This measure was introduced to further reduce the solar installation price.
A standard PV system consists of 5 - 10 PV modules on a roof that are then connected to a PV inverter located inside the home. The PV modules produce DC electricity and the inverter converts this into AC electricity that can be used in the home.
The photovoltaic (PV) module is where the power comes from, it converts sunlight into electricity. This is not to be confused with ‘solar thermal’ which uses sunlight to heat water. ‘Photo’ comes from the Greek for light and ‘volt’ refers to electricity, together photovoltaics refers to converting light into electricity. More specifically, it is the conversion of photons to electrons.
PV modules work best in full sun where they will roughly produce the amount of power stated by the manufacturer. This is called the ‘peak power’ and is typically shown in kilowatts or kWp. So a 2 kWp system in full sun will produce around 2 kWp of power. However, PV modules also work in cloudy conditions but the power output will be much less.
The PV modules are normally fixed to the roof on top of a steel mounting structure. The PV modules are connected together by electrical cables that collect the power. The cabling connects to the inverter that is normally mounted below the PV modules on a wall inside the home. The inverter then converts the DC electricity into AC electricity that can be used by appliances in the home. Any excess AC electricity that the PV system produces can be stored in a battery, diverted to heat water or exported to the grid.
More detail again can be found in the Solar FAQ page on the AirPV website.