Is the hype about heat pumps just a lot of hot air? How long does it take to get money back for installing solar panels? Can I make money from the clean energy revolution by renting out land for solar farms - or selling energy back to the 'grid'? These questions are answered by ADRIAN CASEY, co-founder of Swyft Energy, one of Ireland's largest solar PV companies.
I just saw solar panels installed on my neighbour's roof in a few hours. How long does it usually take? One to two days, depending on size and complexity. Thankfully, solar PV is one of the least disruptive energy upgrades you can install in your home.
How long does it take to recoup my investment in terms of lower energy bills?
On average, homeowners can expect to see a return on investment (ROI) within five to seven years, thanks to government grants, VAT reduction and feed-in-tariffs.
How much do solar panels cost? After SEAI grant, domestic Solar PV prices can range from €6,000 to €20,000 plus. At Swyft Energy, we create bespoke systems based on budget, available roof space, energy bills and energy usage.
VAT has been cut on solar panels this year, I believe. How has that impacted demand?
The VAT cut reduced the upfront cost of the panels by 13.5%, and the payback period by between one and two years, and demand is rising as a result.
How much energy do we really get from solar panels on say a standard semi D?
A well-designed 12-panel solar PV system can generate around 4,500 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year, significantly reducing electricity bills and carbon footprint. Can I sell electricity back to the grid?
Yes, via the Micro-Generation Support Scheme. This scheme enables homeowners to earn credits or receive payments for surplus energy. Tariff rates vary.
There's been a bit of a backlash against heat pumps for being pricey and not as effective as they are sometimes made out to be. Some people regret having them installed. Is there any truth to the criticisms? Heat pumps on new builds are a nobrainer but problems occur when retrofitting. If the fabric of the home is not of a sufficient quality, this raises the upfront cost from €15,000 to €50,000 to carry out the necessary works.
What about solar panels? Are they really that impactful? They may repay you in five years but that's still a lot of money to pay upfront in times of crisis?
While the upfront investment may seem significant, the savings and environmental benefits make them an excellent choice for homeowners. At Swyft Energy, we provide financing options to allow customers to spread the cost of a solar PV system over several years. What about solar farms? I believe they are a compelling financial proposition for anyone with a bit of land? How much can you make if you rent out a few fields?
Solar farms provide a stable source of income and landowners can earn lease payments from solar developers through Power Purchase Agreements [PPAs].
Are there any short-cuts to energy generation - like installing small panels or wind generators yourself? We strongly advise against this.
Installing solar panels requires a deep understanding of renewable energy systems, electrical work, and both SEAI & RECI regulations. DIY installations are complex and may not be cost-effective or even safe. It's a bit like trying to build a car engine; yes, it is possible, but will it work correctly and meet all necessary standards and regulations? Most likely not!