Solar Photovoltaic (PV)
What is Solar PV?
Solar panels are an excellent and sustainable way to reduce your electricity bills, improve your homes energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions. Generating your own electricity reduces your dependence on traditional fossil fuels and will contribute towards making your community more sustainable. Solar PV is the generation of electricity using energy from the sun.
How does it work?
Solar panels that produce electricity are known as solar photovoltaic modules. A solar panel generates electricity when exposed to light, the modules absorb sunlight and convert it to electricity. Solar panels do not require direct sunlight to work and can still generate electricity on cloudy days.
A solar PV system is usually made up of two main components:
1. Solar panels on the roof which generate direct current (DC) electricity, this cannot be used in the home in its current state.
2. An inverter which converts DC energy into alternating current (AC) which is the same as the electricity used in your home.
In some cases, a battery energy storage system will be installed on larger systems to save energy for later use.
What do I need to consider before installing Solar PV?
SEAI advise that before considering Solar PV investment, it is important to assess the energy performance of the whole home, ensuring your home has a good energy performance rating (BER), upgrading heating systems and then consider solar PV or solar thermal.
1. Roof orientation and condition
The first thing to think about when considering solar PV is roof orientation. The most suitable roof orientation for the installation of solar PV is south facing and will typically generate the most electricity. However, any roof which is in good condition and has no shading can work well and offer electricity savings.
A solar PV system will typically last 20+ years and so it is important your roof is in good condition to support the installation throughout its lifetime.
You should contact your local authority for clarification on planning permission especially if your home is a protected structure or is located in a protected area. SEAI state, that generally a solar PV installation takes up less than 50% of the total area of the roof and so planning permission is not typically required.
Costs and financial support
The homeowner should consider the indicative costs for a Solar PV installation before considering installation on your home.
The cost of any system will be unique to the electricity demand of your property and can be discussed with an installer.
The cost of purchasing and installing a Solar PV system on a home ranges between €1,500 – €2,000 per kW installed excluding VAT. This cost can vary depending on the hardware used, the size of the system, accessibility of the roof and the installer used. It is also important to check what financial support is available to you to assist you financially with the installation of a solar PV such as the SEAI Home Energy Grants Programme.
Will a Solar PV system suit my individual needs?
An installer will be able to discuss if a Solar PV system is suitable for your home. If appropriate, an installer will also be able to advise on the sizing of any system to ensure it meets the energy demands of your home.
Will I need battery storage, what are the benefits?
Battery storage may be needed to maximise your electricity savings from your PV system. Battery storage will allow you to make the most of electricity which you generate by storing it so you can use the energy when you need it. Storage is particularly useful if you have solar PV but are out most of the day and so you cannot use all of your solar power.
What are the benefits of Solar PV?
Generating your own electricity through Solar PV is an excellent way to reduce your electricity bills and make your home more sustainable. Solar PV is also a low maintenance technology and only requires regular cleaning of the panels to ensure they maintain optimum performance.
Can I get a grant for Solar PV?
The SEAI Home Energy Grants Programme offers a Solar Electricity Grant to support the installation of Solar PV panels and battery energy storage systems. Support is available to all homeowners and landlords of dwellings built and occupied before 2011. Buildings must have a BER C or better following installation of the Solar PV panels. For further details including the amount of grant support you may be eligible for click here.