How much to install PV on a royal roof...?
How much to install PV on a royal roof?
Wow, big news: HRH The Prince of Wales has got consent to install 32 solar panels on the 123 ft2 roof of Grade II-listed Clarence House. In late August 2010, nationals such as the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail and The Independent gave this major development good coverage but the Daily Telegraph and some other media indicated that HRH would have to splash out £150,000 and wait 10 years to get his money back, and no paper told us whether he would receive FiT – and if so, how much?
Before going into that, you might like to know that, in contrast with HRH, President Obama has apparently refused to reinstate a solar array on the White House – or even get a new version. The original array, designed by British architect Phil Gusack in 1978, was installed under President Carter but 'disarrayed' by President Reagan and sent off to a college in Maine.
There is actually a campaign to get these panels back: http://putsolaron.it/road-trip/
Back to HRH: to give credit where due, in August the Daily Mail included a box on FiTs and estimated the cost at only £30,000. An earlier estimate in the same paper, of December 2009, gave the £150,000 figure, one that was widely reported at the time.
So will the Prince, like other mortals, benefit from FiT? A Clarence House spokesperson would not comment – or confirm the cost, pending an annual review of HRH’s expenses. Nor would they provide details of the technology or the manufacturer. Instead they gave me a prim statement about HRH’s START garden party at Clarence House, 8-19 September: “It will showcase various measures people could take to live a more sustainable lifestyle.”
Well, while you’re wondering whether you have the sort of hat you’d need to crash the garden party, I am assuming that our royals are mortal and would like all the FiT they can get.
At the Energy Savings Trust, the data team estimated that Prince Charles would receive up to £1900 a year from the FiT and from the electricity saved on his electricity bill, reducing his CO2 emissions by 2.2 tonnes*. (What about this asterisk, you wonder. No footnotes in my blog so here it is: *Based on using all the electricity generated on site.
This is on the basis of a 4 MWh a year solar panel system on the royal roof.
While the EST went with the £150,000 figure, Matt Thornington of Plug into the Sun in Cornwall immediately questioned it. “Why should 32 solar panels cost £150,000?” he asked. “Maybe £20,000-30,000 at most.” Matt calculated HRH’s FiT income at £1444 for the first year – which would be about £36,000 over 25 years. Please see his table below.
I then spoke with solar century, a venerable firm in the UK’s solar orbit. They too estimated £30,000 for the cost of 32 solar panels and the return on investment at almost 7%, based on generation and energy saved. So, they said, HRH should have a profit of more than £35,000 over 25 years.
So, Daily Telegraph, take that: HRH would get lots of dosh from the FiT, plus his savings on his electricity bill. You’ll probably just add this dosh to your next complaint about 'green taxes'. Yes, we are all, ultimately, going to pay HRH that FiT for 25 years, but hey, he’s a taxpayer too.
Where did that £150,000 figure come from? Well, I asked the Daily Telegraph’s writer but she was vague – apparently it came from the web…. So I spoke with Solar Power Portal, one web site that ran the £150,000 figure. They said they got it from the papers, specifically the Daily Telegraph!
So here is my message to my e-readers (and HRH if he is among you): be sceptical when you read about the cost of going green. I fear that Daily Telegraph readers, already alarmed by 'green taxes', will be (even) more put off renewables with figures like £150,000 – even for a royal roof. If we are going to get our message across, we need to be alert!
Summary of Potential Savings & Income from a Solar PV System
Executive Summary - Prince Charles
This is a brief summary to demonstrate the very significant savings and income that can be gained by installing a solar PV system. As can be seen from the figures below, the savings & income compare very favourably against the same investment in a standard savings account.
Details of propsed system
System size (kWp)
|Expected output from PV system (kWh/year)
|Estimated % of PV generated electricity used in home
|Payback period on intitial investment (years)
|Carbon savings over 25 years (tonnes of CO2)
|1. Savings by importing less from grid after 1 year
|2. Income from exporting to the grid after 1 year
|3. Income from FIT (Feed-In Tariff) for all PV electricity after 1 year
|Total savings + income from PV in Year 1 (1+2+3 above)
|Total cumulative savings + income from PV after 25 years
Since the amount of radiation from the sun is higher in the South West than in any other part of the UK, electrical outputs from PV systems installed in this region will also be greater than elsewhere.
Please refer to the attached 'Solar PV Income Calculator' for full details of the criteria used in these calculations.
Posted 13/09/2010 by Elizabeth Block
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