In this age when Suffolk County Council are endeavouring to create the "greenest" county, there is an opportunity for many of us to play our part in various ways.
I wonder what members' opinions are on the recent announcement that a number of nuclear power stations are to be built, one of which will be in Suffolk. I feel that such a programme might be reduced if more people had photo-voltaic panels on their properties and that it became a requirement in the design of any "new build" housing or commercial developments.
Let me give you a little insight into my own experiences. I had solar panels for water heating installed some five years ago and at that time enquired about p. v. panels which indicated an expensive project with a long payback period. I made an enquiry again with a local company at the Suffolk Show in 2009 and found that costs had come down considerably making it a more viable proposition, so I duly progressed to obtain more details and an estimate for the installation which I found to be acceptable. The work was carried out over a two day period at the end of January 2010 and I am now the very proud owner of a "power station" with twelve p.v. panels, the performance of which in the first nine months is already above the annual output suggested by the installers and I am exporting more than 50% of what is generated into the National Grid.
As far as costs are concerned, I was fortunate to receive a Government grant, which is no longer available under the new "feed-in tariff' scheme, and I also took advantage of an interest free loan arranged through the Local Authority. I am also aware that installation costs have reduced further in recent months.
The outcome is that I anticipate a financial gain of over £1000 this year, made up of the feed-in tariff on all that is generated, a further sum for that which is exported to the National Grid and the fact that any power that is used in the house during daylight hours is generally free of charge. This figure, which is tax free, will give a return on capital of up to l0% (where can you get an interest rate to match?) and a payback period of around nine years. Hopefully the new Government will not alter the feed-in tariffs which are inflation proof and guaranteed for 25 years. I am optimistic that the above figures will be achieved in what has not been an exceptional year weather-wise and of course I get out of bed each morning praying for a sunny day!
Obviously not everyone has the financial ability to progress such a scheme but if there are any members who would like further information, lists of local installers, or even a conducted tour of my "power station" I would be happy to assist.