Solar PV outperforms expectations in the East

    Savills Energy in the East of England has been running appraisals on the solar PV systems installed during March 2012, and the results from April to December showed a significant over-performance, with all roof-mounted systems outperforming the predicted results.

    This is despite last year’s deplorable weather, which brought grey skies, cloud, rain and perceived low light levels.

    Summaries of the first nine months’ performance of all installations carried out by Savills Energy show an over-performance of between 6% and 18% on the amount of solar electricity generated. Many have already exceeded the predicted 12-month output in just nine months.

    At Shimpling Park Farm, Suffolk, we installed a 50KW solar PV system on a 1,200 square metre grain store in March 2012. During the summer, when most light — and therefore earning potential — is available, the system outperformed itself by 500kWh on average, despite the wet, grey weather. This graph compares the estimated and the actual output of the installation.

    The additional electricity created in East Anglia due to extra irradiance or daylight from March to December 2012 may be summarised as follows:

    Suffolk:  15–18%
    Norfolk:  12–15%
    Hertfordshire:  9–18%
    Cambridgeshire: 6–12%
    Essex:   8–15%
    Bedfordshire:  10%

    The best financial returns from solar PV occur in situations in which the electricity used on site can be offset by the electricity from the PV, or where the electricity can be sold to tenants at a commercial rate. While the Feed in Tariff’s (FiTs) have halved since their introduction, capital costs are now less than a third of what they originally were and have actually decreased more than the FiT. The overall cumulative cash position has fallen at the end of the scheme due to lower tariffs and the FiT duration being reduced from 25 to 20 years. However, lower capital costs mean that schemes are expected to achieve a similar level of return.

    Overall, the future for PV is still very positive. It is a good way for businesses to reduce electricity costs and carbon emissions, as well as to increase their environmental credentials.