Solar panels are one of the least cost-effective ways of combating climate change and will take 100 years to pay back their installation costs, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) warned yesterday.
In a new guide on energy efficiency, Rics said that roof panels for heating water and generating power are unlikely to save enough from bills to make them financially viable in a householder's lifetime. In the case of solar panels to heat water for baths and showers, the institution estimates the payback time from money saved from electricity and gas bills will take more than 100 years – and up to 166 years in the worst case.
Photovoltaic (PV) panels for power – and domestic, mast-mounted wind turbines – will take between 50 and 100 years to pay back.
Given that the devices have a maximum lifetime of 30 years, they are never likely to recoup the £3,000 to £20,000 cost of their installation, according to Rics' building cost information service. Instead, it suggested people wanting to cut fuel bills should insulate lofts and cavity walls, install efficient light bulbs and seal windows.
Joe Martin, author of Rics' Greener Homes Prices Guide, said there was an argument for installing solar panels but it was not an economic one. "We wanted to bring some reality to this because there are a lot of missionaries out there. The whole push for household renewable power is that you can do these things and make back money but that's not true on existing property," he said.
The solar power industry accused Rics of failing to take account of the rising cost of energy and other financial benefits of renewable power in its figures. Jeremy Leggett, of Solar Century, said: "They are grossly irresponsible."
Rics assessed the cost, annual savings, disruption and payback time of various energy-saving methods and gave each an overall rating of one to five stars.
Solar panels for heating and power and wind turbines generating between 3kW and 5kW merited two stars. Smaller 1.5kW turbines of the type installed on roofs paid back in 25 years, received a three-star rating.
By contrast, cavity wall insulation had a five-star rating: spending £440 would save £145 a year in fuel bills, paying back in three years, while an investment of £325 in extra loft insulation would save £60 annually, paying back in five years.
The figures were compiled before energy companies put up bills by up to 30 per cent last month and ignore state subsidies.
Last year, the Department for Trade and Industry slashed grants for the installation of household renewable power by 83 per cent, infuriating the fledgling micro-generation industry which complained the move rendered solar panels unaffordable to all but the wealthy.
Jeremy Leggett, executive chairman of Solar Century, complained that Rics' figures failed to assume any rise in energy prices, when a conservative estimate of 10 per cent a year would transform the calculations.
In addition, Rics had failed to take account of a number of other benefits – renewable obligations certificates worth £160 a year to householders from next year; reductions in energy consumption of up to 40 per cent for schemes with a meter; the rising payments from energy companies for spare electricity put back into the national grid; and the increased value of an energy-efficient home.
He estimated the current payback of power-generating PV panels was 13 years.
Rics countered by saying it had not taken account of maintenance costs and that it deliberately chose not to include "ifs" in its figures. "I doubt however you do the sums, they [solar panels] make sense," a spokesman said.
SOURCE: THE INDEPENDENT
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Unless I'm mistaken, the article in question is from 2008 so the figures have changed dramatically today...
That was exactly our point!!!
How exactly have they changed???
Do you think readers outside of the industry will check the date or they will read the full story and then will go and do their own research on the current equipment and installations costs, after clear information that it is far too expensive?
Majority always reads the headlines and not digging deeper into the subject, simply because we receive ridiculous amount of information on a daily basis and you already do not know what to do with it and how to differentiate the real story with the headlines newspapers who??
The point is simple - there are articles all over the internet that solar does not work, or too expensive!
We want real individual professionals to comment and then spread the word across the Internet!!!
We need real Positive stories as they are today and not as they were back 4 years ago!
However again coming to the recent headlines - what you will see most of the time is that this or that company went down or closed operations! Or that US invested money into Abound, Solyndra etc… and where are they now??? Tax money went into Solar Bubble?!
How do we want to attract residential market with the recent headlines like that????
Who can provide guarantees that when You install the system on the roof, it won’t break completely and that the company which went bust won’t be able to exchange the modules???
Has anyone at RICS considered the ENERGY payback period?
And the 'payback' from nuclear?
At pv magazine, we actually made an infographic addressing 5 common myths about solar, which targeted this exact myth! The irony is that the study I referenced was from 2008!
Sunny greetings from Berlin!
The statistics quoted was from 2008. At that time, mono solar panel cost is about USD2.00 for wholesale market. Now, it is only USD0.75~0.85/W.
A 5kw grid-tied solar system, the total system cost at current market cost, is about USD7,000, excluding taxes and installation cost. Adding the tax and installation, it is about USD10,000 a unit at maximum for end user.
Presume average daily peak sunshine time is 4 hours, annual generation about 7,200KWH. I believe this is a conservative figure. China's electricity price is about USD0.083/KWH.
So, the payback time in China is USD10,000/(7,200KW*USD0.083)=16.8 years.
The installation cost in China is actually exaggerated.
It is interesting in any industry that there are those the "push" their agenda utilizing the facts they chose to be engage with for their own purposes. And yes we do that as well, every industry does. The generalities that are used by the RIC are not very accurate in my humble opinion. The fist panel that was created is till producing power, well over 50 years. On a home in the USA verse other parts of the world the facts may be different but if you are going to mention ROI and life span of a product please use all the facts and all of the data available not just what you want to use and be current.
These type of articles is the very reason I write "ambiguous" blogs, due the the fact there are so many blogs and articles that are just hot air and "stuff" that never create real dialog just miss information. The the general public reads that the RIC has said this or that, they believe it out of hand. This create bad ideas and bad discussion in the furtherance of any energy discussion let alone solar.
I like the fact that the ROI of the reductions they suggest are not mentioned in comparison, what is up with that. If you are going to get in the ring and swing at me I am going to swing back and I will land a few blows. But there is even rules in the ring, so let' start swing at the miss information and get the energy discussion going in the right direction.
Solar is not the only answer, conservation is a great option, so are fuel cells and so is having a house that is uncomfortable to live in, but we need to work from a real starting point. And that pint is that the world is using more power, charging more for it and producing less of it. Cost will always go up and the consumer will bare the brunt of all of that, we are the consumer and I am fighting mad about the BS that is strewn about the ring, it smells and it is not fun to roll in when your knocked down. Swing ON!
Bit one sided as with all calculations they have probably included everything into the figures.... here in France the RoI was about 7 years, but do not include .... VAT (reclaimable), installation costs (manpower, concrete etc) and to this you also reduce the price paid with any local, regional or national subsidies received.... here only the physical parts (panels, inverters, cables & frames etc) can be put into the investment tables... for the accountants to play with