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I have the (solar) power: PV installations boost savings and income

Could solar power boost the British economy AND cut our bills?

The argument for installing solar photovoltaic (PV) systems has been strengthened with the publication of a new report revealing that consumers can benefit from significant savings and increased income by adopting the technology.

Data published by the Energy Saving Trust indicates that the potential monetary advantages of solar PV installations is continuing to increase –  the average combined savings and income made from households installing panels rose by almost £100 over the last year.

Figures published in 2011 suggest that consumers would benefit to the tune of £540 a year by adopting the technology, but this has now risen to £635 and is expected to continue increasing in the months and years ahead.

The key reason behind this, according to the Trust, is that the average size of solar PV installations is increasing, even though the Feed-in Tariff rate has dropped.

Ian Cuthbert, a renewables expert at the organisation, noted that the average size of solar PV installations has increased from 3kWp to 3.5kWP, which means households are generating more electricity and, subsequently, benefiting from greater savings and Feed-in Tariff income.

“It is clear that UK households are increasingly looking to get the maximum yield for their roof to maximise the benefits of the solar installation,” he added.

Adoption needs to increase

The statistics were published alongside a new poll by the Trust that found a third of people in the UK have been offered the chance to install solar panels in the past year, but only four per cent chose to do so.

The organisation said it hopes the figures will provide householders with the reassurance that they will be making “significant savings and income” as a result of the installation.

“These savings could be even higher if householders take steps to reduce the amount they export to the grid by shifting some of their electrical demand to during the day when the solar PV system is generating,” Mr Cuthbert explained.

One example would be using the washing machine during the day, instead of at nighttime, he noted.

However, establishing a firm level of confidence in solar PV will remain the most effective way of boosting adoption and overcoming people’s reservations, he explained.

“It is important for installers to be offering the right measure in the right home alongside the right advice to ensure that trust continues to be built between them and householders who could benefit from solar installations.”

The wider benefits of adopting energy efficient technology have also been highlighted in a new report by Consumer Focus that suggests tens of thousands of jobs could be created by implementing increased energy efficiency infrastructure investment.

According to the study, investing the money raised through carbon taxes in a major energy efficiency programme would be a highly effective means of boosting employment and stimulating the UK economy, while simultaneously tackling the issue of fuel poverty.

More jobs, less expenditure

In the report, entitled Jobs, Growth and Warmer Homes, it is claimed that significant government energy efficiency infrastructure investment could generate up to 71,000 jobs and boost GDP by 0.2% by 2015 and create up to 130,000 jobs by 2027.

These measures would also bring 90% of households out of fuel poverty, while reducing energy bills in all treated homes by at least £200 per year.

Furthermore, it would cut household energy consumption by 5.4% over the next 15 years and quadruple the impact of the government’s Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation.

It would also cut overall carbon emissions by 1.1%, including reducing household emissions by  almost 6% by 2027 – all unavoidable reasons to take further action, explained Mike O’Connor, chief executive at Consumer Focus.

“We need to make heating our homes more affordable, cut carbon emissions and achieve economic growth. Using carbon taxes to ensure our homes leak less energy represents a triple-whammy,” he commented.

“This would simultaneously improve the quality of life of millions of people, slash carbon emissions and generate greater economic growth than other measures. Consumers will be paying these taxes through their bills. They can and should feel the benefit. ”

Each of the studies highlights that the benefits of boosting investment in, and the adoption of, energy efficiency systems can no longer be ignored.

Householders across the UK are already befitting from increased income and greater energy savings, and a nationwide drive to promote the advantages of solar PV panels and other systems would only serve to enhance this.