What should the cost of energy crisis mean for the deployment of Solar PV?

I heard on the radio yesterday an oil and gas lobbyist saying the UK should release more licenses for extraction in the north sea to tackle the cost of the energy crisis. Surely, this is lunacy?

It certainly seems the case as I talk to renewable energy installers who are in massive demand for installation of solar PV. They are inundated with consumers wanting these little beauties on their roof.

Finally, the intelligent public has woken up to the financial viability of solar photo voltaic, but will the government also realise this is the way forward?

Extraction of oil is surely more costly than the installation of renewables and will take longer? I assume this but don’t know for sure. I imagine it’s 5-10 years before oil/gas can hit the market after an extraction license is delivered.

According to Mike Berners-Lee, we need solar on around 1.5% of Britain to provide all our energy (less the challenge of balancing the grid). Whilst around 8% of Britain is built up, it can’t be much of a challenge for the government to get more solar panels on the roofs of houses, warehouses, and other public buildings.

This could be done quickly and surely it’s got to be one of the most immediate solutions to the energy crisis. It makes me think about Elon Musk’s challenge to Australia when they had blackouts - he provided an immediate solution to a grid problem with associated solar infrastructure and said it could be done super quick.

We should be using this crisis as an opportunity.

When I search for energy suppliers for business clients through our consultancy arm, I’m shocked by prices. It’s going to cost around 52p/kWhr for daytime electricity. The case for solar is clear. The installation cost for my 5.24KW solar installation was £8,540, and it produces 4,848kWhrs a year. It’s guarantee is for 25 years giving the cost of my solar energy around 7p/kWhr (£8540/121,200kWhrs/lifetime).

For someone installing solar on their roof, who should get a better price than me (note - @omantench did better getting a similar system to mine for £6,000), there is a very strong case for installing solar energy. When paying 52p/kWhr for import, and assuming you use only half of your solar energy, a solar installation like mine will pay itself back in less than 7 years. It also makes the case better for batteries - attaching battery storage which will cost around £6,000, meaning a payback in around 7 years as well.

This stacks up well for someone in their home wanting to reduce their energy bill. Instead of paying for the increasing cost of energy and lining the pockets of oil and gas companies, they can help the grid become renewable and line their own pockets.

And studies are showing that solar panels add value to your property - so it’s a winner even if you’re going to move!

So, what should the energy crisis mean for the installation of solar PV - it should mean accelerated deployment. We know that when deployed at scale solar PV should cost around 3p/kWhr, cheaper than coal and much cheaper than gas.

So shouldn’t we just get on with it?

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I for one am trying to do so - but unavailability due to demand means long lead times. What I don’t understand is that the energy generators charge the same whether the source of a kWh is solar, gas, nuclear, wind or other. They must be making a killing on at least 2 of those. It seems to me that the current gas prices should be a strong impetus on the energy generators to go for renewables as well. And, the market needs to decouple the different sources to some extent to encourage use of renewables now they’re cheaper.

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Two years ago as we came out of lockdown I said Government needed to ramp up solar installations with grants, low rate loans and installation training……as usual nothing happened. It’s just too late to do much now so we are in for six months of misery and high prices. I have solar and 5Kw of storage but really need 10kw but can’t afford the extra batteries without a very low interest loan. We will need Nuclear, gas and oil for some years to come. The electric car revolution is only just taking off. Government wont want to upset their friends in big oil so little or nothing will happen. Changing Prime Ministers is like changing deck chairs on the Titanic, we are still going to sink

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On energy price - prices match the cost of energy traded - which goes to the highest bidder. At the moment energy companies are bidding higher for energy as gas prices are so high. Good Energy wrote a pretty good article about it here.

It’s the generators that are making great money in this market or the middlemen trading energy. The problem with decoupling is that we all consume from the grid. I agree in principle though - those energy providers who are 100% renewable should have purchased their renewable energy for the long run and customers should benefit.

I good way to go in this market is to make an investment in Ripple Energy - you get energy at the cost of production, which over 20 years works out at 3p/kWhr. So you invest £1,700 and get big reductions on your energy bill for the energy you’ve generated. I’ve just paid £25 to reserve my place in their next wind turbine.

That’s a bit pessimistic Steven but get your point - they are likely to not move the dial. Thank goodness for a democratic system, increasing awareness of the link between cost of living and the climate crisis, and other political parties.