Solar Panels

Solar Panels

Despite common perception, solar panels can be highly efficient in Scotland and are playing an increasingly important role in Scotland's renewable energy market. The cost of solar panels has significantly decreased over recent years.

For most homes in Scotland, installing solar panels does not require planning permission, if they are below a certain size. Planning permission is required for listed buildings and conservation areas. For further information on the planning permission process visit the Perth & Kinross Council Planning Portal.

Solar photovoltaics (PV) capture the sun's energy to generate electricity. These cells don't need direct sunlight to work – they can still generate some electricity on a cloudy day. The cells convert the sunlight into electricity, which runs household appliances and lighting. Installing solar panels can help mitigate climate change and save money long-term, offsetting the initial cost of the solar panels.

Maximum power output from solar panels is achieved for south-facing roofs with a tilt angle of 30 degrees and no shade. Solar panels are pretty much maintenance-free and should last for at least 25 years.

All homeowners in Scotland can apply for the interest-free loan from the Scottish Government of up to £5,000 for a solar panel installation. The loan is repayable across five years if borrowing less than £5,000, or 10 years if borrowing the full £5,000. Those that are successful in obtaining the loan must pay an administrative fee of 1.5% of total amount borrowed. To be eligible for the loan you must not start your installation until you have received a written loan offer. If your loan application is successful, you’ll be given up to six months to borrow the money and install the solar panels. For energy storage batteries you can apply for up to £6,000 under the same loan.

To apply call Home Energy Scotland on Freephone 0808 808 2282. Once you've spoken to an advisor and you're ready to proceed, they'll give you access to the online application form. Home Energy Scotland can help advise you on what renewable systems are best suited to your home and inform you on reputable installers.

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) legislation means that all large UK energy providers are required to pay homeowners for any renewable electricity they export to the National Grid.

Your solar PV system on your roof will generate electricity during the day to use in your home. Surplus energy you don’t use is exported to the local electricity grid. Batteries can be used to store this surplus solar electricity generated, instead of exporting it. However, you should be producing enough surplus electricity to invest in a battery storage system.

During the day your solar PV system produces electricity, and the battery storage system will check if all the generation is being used to power your appliances and lights. If all the generation is not being used, surplus will be used to charge the battery. Once the battery is fully charged, if more electricity is still being generated then this will be exported to the grid. At times of low solar generation such as in the evening, the solar PV system has reduced output. This is when the battery can discharge the stored electricity at no additional cost. This saves you buying electricity from your supplier when you’re not generating electricity and cuts your bills.

Storage batteries can be expensive and currently cost between £1200-6000, so you’ll need to make sure it's a worthwhile investment. It may also take a long time for the battery to pay for itself. This could improve over time if battery prices drop, and electricity prices rise. If you have an electric vehicle, storing cheap electricity to charge it may help cut costs. Ensure you get quotes from several installers and determine your estimated savings. Your installer must be signed up to the Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC).

Many people look to invest in battery systems to protect themselves against power cuts. However, not all systems are designed to work during power cuts.

If you choose to install a battery storage system, you should notify your local Distribution Network Operator. You can check with the Energy Networks Association if you’re not sure who it is.

Call Home Energy Scotland on Freephone 0808 808 2282 to assist your solar panel installation. They can help assess if your home is suitable for solar PV panels.

Your installer and solar panels must be certified under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS). You can find installers in your area (as well as customer reviews) on Energy Saving Trust's Renewables Installer Finder. For a full list of MCS-certified installers, see the Microgeneration Certification Scheme website.