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Anyone for free solar power?

Free solar panels - too good to be true?We’re all a bit cautious when someone offers us something for nothing, especially if that something is money off our bills. “Where’s the catch?” we all ask in unison. Two companies in particular are hearing this question more often than any other at the moment: A Shade Greener and ISIS Solar. Both of these organizations are offering FREE solar power to residents of the UK.

A Shade Greener (ASG) announced at the end of June that it will offer an initial 2,000 free solar photovoltaics (PV) installations to select regions, with the aim of increasing this figure to 6,000 over three years. ISIS Solar later revealed at the end of July that it would be offering a similar deal – an initial 18,000 free solar systems, beginning in the south of the UK, and working northwards as the year progresses. Both of the offers include a free consultation (to discern whether your house is suitable), free solar panel and system installation, free monitoring of the system, free use of the electricity it generates and free system maintenance.

So how on earth are they able to do this? Well the answer is simple; both companies are benefitting from the UK’s recently introduced feed-in tariff (FiT), which pays out 41.3p per kilowatt hour of renewable energy produced for a period of 25 years (generation tariff), and a further 5p per kilowatt hour for any leftover energy (export tariff) that it fed back into the grid. The FiT is available to any solar PV electricity generator in the UK, and could earn the owner a profit of around £1,239 per annum.

Both ASG and ISIS have cottoned on to a real money-maker here, since, as the owner of the system, their profit is certain (as its payment is mandated by government). They’ve realized that not everyone is able to afford the upfront cost of a system for themselves (between £8-12,000), and so by effectively ‘renting’ people’s roof space, they are able to earn a profit while proving renewable electricity to the ‘host house’ free of charge. By going through one of these companies, you are able to save approximately £360 per year on your electricity bill, by using the renewable electricity generated by the system.

A Shade Greener

Each ASG system is typically comprised of 18 ET Solar mono-c-Si modules at 185 watts (ET-M572185) and an SMA inverter. ASG has begun its first wave of installations, aiming for a target of 6,000 systems in three years. Based on the fact that each install is typically 3.3kW, the company will have installed an approximate 19MW by the end of this period. The company suggests that the customer should take a look at their roof prior to contacting them, to see if it is big enough for 18 panels, and to work out of it is roughly south facing.

ISIS Solar

 

ISIS, who will be working initially in the region of Oxfordshire, will also install systems of 3.3kW. The company asks that the customer has an area of 24m2, on a roof which must be roughly south facing and relatively unshaded. An ISIS spokesperson named Leicestershire-based Mark Group as its installer, who will be using Mitsubishi 1.85kW modules and Fronius inverters for the installations.

Unsurprisingly, these free solar panel offers are extraordinarily popular, with ISIS telling us that they received 13,000 email enquiries in one day and ASG saying that it was getting five calls per second (they have now taken their phone number off the website). These are just two of an expected many companies who are going to offer this kind of deal. While it is really great to see that you really can get something for nothing in this life, it is important to remember that you can also earn your own profit by installing a system yourself.

Buying your own system

Obviously it’s difficult to gauge exactly how much you can save/earn by installing your own solar power system (since every house’s electricity usage/location/system will be slightly different) the following figures will be roughly what you can expect for a 3.3kW system.

You will firstly pay out approximately £8-12,000 for the initial installation of the system. Once up-and-running, you will then begin to save £1,239 per annum, which will amount to £30,975 over the 25 years that the FiT is paid for. During this period you will also save approximately £360 per year on your electricity bill (based on current electricity prices of 12p/kWh), which amounts to £9,000. Without forgetting the export tariff, which could earn you up to £500 over the 25 year period, in total you will gain somewhere in the region of £40,000. Taking away the initial £8-20,000, you still earn a considerable profit.

If you are interested in finding out if your home is suitable for FREE solar panels, you can contact ISIS Solar for systems in the South or visit here to contact ASG about a system further North.

This blog post was written by Emma Hughes, Editor of the Solar Power Portal.

  • i would like to give it a go,that is if it is free my aunt has just had it installed,but she is not happy up as yet.

  • Rich H

    Hi Michael, Why isn’t your Aunt happy? I have registered an interest with one of the companies offering free solar.

  • after having it installed she has not yet seen any benefit,the installers told her it will be about 3 to 5 years before she will see any benefit.

  • MS ELLA SOP

    I AM IN PRIVATE RENTED PROPERTY SO WOULD I STILL BE ABLE TO HAVE INSTALL OF FREE SOLAR POWER.I HAVE ELECTRIC NOT GAS.

  • MS ELLA SOP

    FREE SOLAR POWER POSSIBLE FOR RENTED POSSIBLE?

    • Lauren Pope

      Hi,

      You’d have to speak to both your landlord and the company providing the solar panels to see if it would be possible.

      Thanks

      Lauren

  • david walker

    I have two building which are privately owned and wish to explore rental solar panel options on both

    both have larege roof areas and easy installation options

    • Christine T.

      I also have 5 acres of high desert property. I would like to lease out this property for a couple hundred pv panels. There is a house on the property and the local co-op will buy back power at retail. Let me know when you find out who will lease my property for solar and/or wind generated power.

      • Lauren Pope

        Hi

        I’m guessing you’re based in the USA? We’re based in the UK, so this scheme sadly isn’t avaialble where you are.

        Lauren

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  • Hosting Anak Bangsa

    the best blog that i have seen today. keep posting

  • Lauren Pope

    Hi – if you’re interested in finding out more about free solar, we’ve teamed up with HomeSun to offer a special free solar panel deal to uSwitch customers. Take a look here – http://blog.uswitch.com/2010/11/11/free-solar-panels-a-special-offer-from-uswitch-and-homesun/

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  • Paul Day

    Figures quoted make a purchase of the system a no brainer, however, I like many others cannot afford the initial investment – so I figure it is better to go free than not at all, the savings aren’t great but I’m all for a greener life. Paul in West Bridgford.

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  • Katymay27

    Why does it take three to five years to see the benefits?

  • FRED

    Why prepaid meter customers are being exploited because of their circumstances, their tariffs are the most expensive yet they pay up front for their electricity and gas, the standing charge is another a rip off payment that is charged to every customer and should be refunded and back dated Min 10 years, all essential services should be zero VAT rated, it’s always the poor and vulnerably are taken advantage of in this society.

  • J.Glennerster

    Why start this in the south first when the north is 10 degrees colder, North /south divide. yeah.

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