woman setting goals for her New Year's Resolutions

Six Greener Living New Year’s Resolutions for 2023

A new year is almost upon us – traditionally a time when we reflect on the past twelve months and look ahead to the next twelve. Many people find making New Year’s Resolutions a helpful way to plan, devise and publicly state their good intentions for the year ahead. So, alongside the plans to eat better, exercise more and learn a new skill, here are some ideas to help make 2023 your greenest living year yet.

Switch on to renewable energy

Many homes and businesses still rely on the National Grid for power, light and heat. However, using sustainable energy sources instead is becoming simpler and more affordable than ever before. Switching to sustainable energy sources, such as solar power systems and photovoltaic panels, brings benefits to your pocket thanks to lower energy bills, while helping the planet at the same time. Other options for switching to renewable energy include air source heat pumps and biomass systems.

Use electricity wisely

Even after switching to solar power for electricity generation, there is still more that can be done to reduce energy usage and live more sustainably. Turn devices off at the mains when not using them, or switch them to eco mode if they have this feature. Use LED light bulbs instead of the older filament types for more cost-effective and efficient domestic or commercial lighting. Dial the thermostat down a couple of degrees and put on a jumper if you feel cold. Choose appliances with higher energy efficiency ratings for longer-term electricity savings.

Recycle, recycle, recycle

We have all taken to recycling the packaging of common items like plastics, cardboard and tin cans. However, there is still plenty more that can be recycled and reused to help keep things out of landfill and reduce the energy use required to make new items. Clothing is one example – visit charity shops and second hand online markets to see what ‘preloved bargains’ you can find. Pass children’s clothes on to others to get more use out of them. Cut up really old clothes and use them for cleaning cloths. Save glass bottles to take to the bottle bank and reuse glass jars for keeping small bits safe, such as screws and nails.

Savvy shopping skills

Another way to keep landfill sizes down is to buy reusable products wherever possible. Shops are gearing up more and more to help people fulfil this goal. Some examples of reusable products now readily available include sustainable water bottles, cloth nappies, cotton shopping bags and metal straws. Avoid fruit and vegetables with excessive packaging and instead bring your own bags to take them home in. Be prepared to pay a little more for products built to last, such as better quality shoes or toys that will last longer before needing to be replaced.

Go green with your toiletries

This is a really good place to start with greener New Year’s Resolutions. It needn’t cost a lot of money to start making a real difference. For example, switch to eco-friendly toilet paper made from bamboo to help save trees and water. Choose plastic-free soaps, shampoos and conditioners for a further sustainable impact. Solid soap and shampoo bars can also be more environmentally-friendly, as they cut down on the amount of packaging needed as opposed to liquid alternatives that come in large plastic bottles.

Paperless promises

Offices up and down the country are pledging to cut down the amount of paper they use in a bid to eventually become paperless. This is something that can be replicated at home. Some examples of easy changes to make include no longer printing out emails, requesting electronic bank statements instead of paper ones, using pretty material to wrap presents and using cloud-based storage for important files and apps for to-do lists and reminder notes. Send loved ones photographs and digital greetings cards to help them reduce the amount of paper and cardboard entering their homes as well.

Finally, don’t just plan out your New Year’s Resolutions – act on them as quickly as you can. If you are interested in finding out more details about installing solar power in your business or home, contact the experts at UPS in early January for an initial, no-obligation consultation. It may be dark outside right now, but getting started now will mean that your photovoltaic panels can be in place in time for the longer daylight hours of spring and summer 2023.

solar panels on new build

Why you Should Add Solar Panels to Your New Build Property Plans

The benefits of solar power for domestic properties are well known. From reduced energy bills to a more sustainable way of living, switching wholly or partially to renewable energy can reap homeowners many rewards. So, what if you are planning a new build property project and are considering what type of power to install? All of these advantages still apply. Plus, there are several other benefits that can help your new build to meet regulations, increase resale value and ensure its sustainability credentials from day one.

Here are some key reasons why new builds and solar panels can make a great match.

  • Improve SAP calculations

Recent changes in Part L of the Building Regulations and Standard Assessment Procedures (SAP) have meant that renewable energy measures such as solar panels are increasingly sought-after for new-build homes. All new homes are now required by law to include enough energy saving measures to pass the SAP calculation score and become as energy self-sufficient as possible. SAP calculations go from 1 to 100 and indicate the annual cost of energy associated with the property, as well as its overall environmental performance. Factors include heating, lighting and overall structure. While the SAP calculation system has been in place since 1995, the changes to the regulation now means that properties must secure a ‘pass’ score, with a minimum of 10% of consumed electricity on site now required to be self-generated.

  • Enhance the property’s BREEAM score

Another assessment system for new builds is the BREEA score (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment). This scheme was established in 1990 and calculates the sustainability rating of a building. It helps construction companies rate the sustainability of their work and to reduce the negative effects that construction processes have on the environment. Having solar panel included on a new build can help increase the BREEAM score and thus add even more to the property’s proven green credentials and sustainability factor.

  • Lower installation costs, now and in the future 

It stands to reason that, having solar panels incorporated into the roof from the beginning means that the roof will require fewer tiles and, potentially, lower labour costs. The photovoltaic panels sit flush with the roof and are larger than single tiles. As a result, they will not be as time-consuming to place in the correct position and line up with the rest of the surface. Additionally, if the solar panels are already installed before the first resident moves in, they will no need to have a solar energy system added later on, and neither will their future buyers. The infrastructure needed to live more sustainably when it comes to generating electricity will already be up and working.

new build property with solar panels
  • Reduce overall carbon footprint

Increasingly, people seeking to buy a house, new build or otherwise, are becoming concerned with the carbon footprint that the property will generate. Stringent targets set by the UK to reach Net Zero by 2030 are driving increased interest in energy saving measures like solar panels. Many people are keen to do their bit to contribute to this worthy cause and help fight the effects of climate change. Having solar panels already in place will be an attractive addition and powerful marketing message for any new build company wishing to show their commitment to the green agenda. Adding storage batteries to allow homeowners to store excess electricity and use it at night or on duller days is another incentive well worth considering.

  • Encourage wider use of renewable energy

Finally, the more new-build properties that are constructed with solar panels firmly in place, the quicker the idea will spread to other homeowners and property professionals in the area. As with any desirable feature on a building, having solar panels not only up and running from the start can help to add value to the property and hence its surrounding neighbourhood. They will also look far more attractive if they can be installed flush against the roof, rather than added later and resting on tiles. If your new-build property can lead the way in starting a trend locally for switching to renewable energy and a greener lifestyle, this can only be a good thing for both your property and its neighbouring buildings and community.

solar power system

Solar Panel Myth-Busting: 5 Common Misconceptions About Solar Power Systems Cleared Up

Solar power systems are growing in popularity across the UK, with around 970,000 homes reportedly having solar panels installed (SOURCE: www.theecoexperts.co.uk/solar-panels/popularity-of-solar-power). Advantages are multiple, from lower electricity bills to smaller carbon footprints; ability to store the energy produced to the potential for making money on any unused electricity. However, as with any technology that is making its mark on the world, there are several misconceptions that exist which are causing some people to be cautious. Here, in no particular order, we address five such misconceptions and try to give some reassurances about each one.

There is not enough sunshine in the UK to make installing solar panels worthwhile

In 2021, the UK recorded a staggering 1,387.8 hours of sunshine (SOURCE: Annual sunshine hours 2021 | Statista). The summer of 2022 went down in history as a heatwave with temperatures over 40 degrees C in places, and days of glorious sunshine enjoyed across the country. While it is true that the UK’s weather experiences peaks and troughs when it comes to seeing the sun, there is more than enough sunshine available for a solar power system to be worth its financial outlay in the longer term. Today’s powerful solar power systems are able to extract solar energy from the sun and turn it into electricity on even dull and cloudy days.

Solar panels are not very efficient or effective

There are figures out there that quote solar panel efficiency at around 15% to 22%, which may not sound much at first. However, this is because the sun doesn’t hit all the panel surfaces all the time and some of the energy sourced from the sun turns into heat and not light and so cannot be collected. Never fear though, as the sun produces immense amounts of solar energy – so much so that solar panels really don’t need to be more than 22% efficient to produce enough energy for a typical household’s needs. What’s more, as with any technology of its type, solar power systems and photovoltaic panels are increasing in power, efficiency and performance all the time. The global focus on combating climate change and switching to renewable energy sources makes now a great time to see advances in solar technology.

Living sustainably and ‘going green’ costs a lot of money – not enough to be worth the environmental benefits

At first glance, solar power systems don’t appear to be cheap. Solar panels do come with an initial cost, as do other forms of renewable energy installed as part of a sustainable living drive. However, the savings you can enjoy on your electricity bills after getting solar panels will help offset that cost. As can becoming involved in schemes to sell any unused electricity that you generate back to the National Grid and so help reduce the use of fossil fuels further. Adding a battery to your solar power system can also help you store excess electricity and use it when the sun is not shining. This helps save money on the fuel bills at night or during darker days, as you don’t have to rely on expensive conventional electricity sources to keep the lights and heating on.

Installing photovoltaic panels can damage my roof

Solar panels are normally not attached directly to the roof, and therefore will not damage tiles, chimneys or roofing materials. Rather, they sit on special frames that keep them pointing in the right direction with the right amount of space between and under each panel to ensure their optimum performance. Solar panels are highly durable and can actually do a good job of protecting your roof from damage caused by heavy winds, storms, rain etc. The panels can be taken off the roof easily for maintenance or replacement without harming the surface underneath. You can even remove them temporarily when replacing your roof.

If I don’t own my own house, I can’t benefit from solar power

While the vast majority of tenants will require their landlord’s permission to have solar panels installed on the property in which they live, there are other ways to benefit from the technology. Look into whether there is a community solar programme near you, for example. These allow multiple households to take advantage of a single, shared solar array. The arrays are installed off site and their purchase and installation costs are shared between everyone who signs up to taking part. You can buy into such a scheme at the level that best suits your budget.

solar panel install crew

6 Good Questions Ask the Experts Before You Install Solar Panel

Once you have decided to switch to solar power to provide electricity for your home, there will be a number of decisions to make and preparations to complete before a solar panel install can take place. It is well worth engaging the services of a consultant to make sure that you get the right configuration for your individual property and energy needs. This can help you avoid costly mistakes. It can also speed up the installation process so that you can start saving money on energy bills sooner, rather than later.

Areas to consider when installing solar power

As with any larger-scale project of this nature, there are several aspects to bear in mind. Here are six of the main questions to ask and factors to consider before confirming your final choices for your domestic solar power installation.

How much space do you have?

As a rule, solar panels need at least four to seven inches of space between rows when installed on a roof or flat surface. This is to allow room for the frame to expand and contract with changes in temperature and weather conditions. A further twelve inches is required between the panels and the edge of the roof or surface in order to comply with building regulations and keep the frame secure. A key first step is to measure the available space that you have and work out the size and type of solar panel set-up that will fit and best suit the space.

How much energy do you use?

Energy use in domestic properties can vary depending on the size of the building, how many people live or are based there and the type of appliances and energy usage that are involved. A solar power consultant will be able to tell you how much energy each type and size of solar panel system can produce and the best fit for your individual household’s energy usage. You can also gain useful tips and advice on cutting down on energy usage and choosing the right solar panels to reduce your fuel bills.

When do you need to use energy?

Many homes use more electricity at night, when there is increased demand for lighting and heating. That said, however, since the COVID-19 pandemic, more of us are working from home than before. So, this could affect energy use during the day as well. If you find your household using more energy at night, consider installing a solar power system that connects to a storage battery. That way, you can keep any electricity that is not used in the day in reserve for use at night, when the sun is not out. Or for cloudy or dull days when the solar energy coming from the sun’s rays is not as powerful.

What type of solar power system do you need?

Most solar panels available today produce between 250 and 400 Watts of power. More accurate figures will depend on where you have placed the panels and how much exposure they get to the sun, how long for and how well maintained (or otherwise) the system is. A solar panel consultant can let you know how each type of system performs in terms of amount of energy produced, ease of storing it and whether it will fulfil your electricity needs in full, or only partially.

What type of local building regulations are there?

This question will depend entirely on what documentation is held by your local authority, Land Registry etc. Some types of housing and local areas will be subject to more stringent building regulations and planning permissions than others. For example, listed buildings and conservation areas will have more rules to follow when it comes to projects such as installing solar panels than others. This must be carefully checked to ensure that you do not fall foul of the law and therefore end up with added costs, irritating delays, unhappy neighbours and so on.

What financial incentives are involved?

Finally, installing solar panels might represent a large investment at first, but there are a number of financial advantages in doing so. For a start, most households find that their electricity and gas bills go down as the reliance on the National Grid lessens. There are even schemes to help you sell back any unused energy and so help offset the initial investment in solar panels. Many householders can also find that installing solar panels adds value to their property when it comes to selling it further down the line.

Rising energy prices and solar power

It cannot have escaped many people’s attention that energy prices have been rising rapidly over the past months. Consumers everywhere are growing more and more concerned about how to pay their fuel bills. So, why is this happening? Repercussions from COVID-19, as well as other global events, such as the conflict in Ukraine and its wider political fallout, have collided to place enormous pressure on oil supplies and energy prices around the world. Energy companies going bust have also had a large impact on supply versus demand. Media headlines about the energy crisis are frequent and fuel prices are increasing very quickly.

In April 2022, Ofgem (UK government department that regulates UK gas and electricity companies) announced an increase to the energy price cap of an average of 54%. At the time of writing, this looks set to rise even further in October, although the Government has just announced measures to keep the price cap at an average of £2,500 for a typical household (SOURCE: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/energy-bills-support/energy-bills-support-factsheet-8-september-2022). This will go some way to help combat the escalating costs, but it will not totally solve the problem. Particularly as winter is around the corner with colder temperatures and increased demands for energy. If not enough is done to slow down the rate of energy costs, fuel bills could reach staggeringly high amounts for many energy customers in 2023 and beyond.

Solar power: surge in demand?

The prospect of much higher energy bills could spark an increase in interest for many around solar PV panel systems for domestic and commercial use. Installing solar panels will not result in immediate energy bill reductions – indeed, the system will require an initial financial outlay to buy it and have it fitted. However, in the longer term, some experts are predicting that solar panels could save householders as much as £3,000 per year (SOURCE: https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/news/solar-pv-could-pay-off-as-soon-as-three-years-amid-energy-price-cap-rises) if conventional energy prices continue to rise at the same rate.

Interest in renewable energy, such as solar power, heat pumps etc., is high right now, not only because of the rising costs of electricity. Sustainable living and working is a major agenda item for businesses, government departments, charities and other organisations. Switching away from fossil fuels to renewable alternatives could play a large part in reducing carbon footprints. It could radically change behaviours around energy production and consumption too, as people wake up to its possibilities.

What’s more, the energy produced by solar panels can be stored for use when the sun is not so strong, or at night. Excess can be sold back to the National Grid to help ease pressure on electricity supplies. This is possible through the Government’s Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme. The SEG scheme replaces a previous feed-in tariff (FIT), which was slightly more generous. However, it still helps households generating solar power to get paid for the electricity they do not use themselves.

While energy prices have soared, the costs of installing solar panels have remained far more stable. They can also be reclaimed within a family’s budget, thanks to a reduced reliance on the National Grid for power. They can also add value to a property when it comes to selling up and moving home or commercial premises. It is thought that the financial ‘break-even’ point for an installed solar panel system is around 15 years. Therefore having an existing system already in place can help add value to domestic housing or commercial premises prices.

Solar powered home

The best way to set up solar panels

The best situation for a solar panel system to be installed is on a south-facing, sloping roof that receives direct sunlight between the hours of 10am and 4pm. There should be plenty of space for the panels to be installed and the area should not be shaded by trees, other buildings etc. This is ideal for harnessing the maximum amount of solar power. The roof should be in good condition so that the panels can fix strongly to it without being able to fall or wriggle loose during heavy winds or storms.

You normally won’t need to seek planning permission for installing solar panels, but it is wise to double check if you are unsure. Always get multiple quotes for solar panels, or consult an expert advisor, such as UPS Solar to find the best match for your property and energy requirements.

How solar panel systems can help you sell your house

Installing solar panels brings many benefits. These include promoting a greener way of living and reducing reliance on the National Grid. However, when it comes to selling a property with solar panels attached, these benefits could prove even more compelling. There is more and more evidence that solar panels help sell a home. It has been estimated that homes with solar panels can sell for around 4.1% more than those without (SOURCE: https://www.theecoexperts.co.uk/solar-panels/buying-or-selling-a-house-with-solar-panels). A National Home Energy Survey also revealed that 65% of those asked revealed a preference for buying somewhere that already had a working solar panel system installed (SOURCE: https://www.theecoexperts.co.uk/solar-panels/buying-or-selling-a-house-with-solar-panels).

Why solar power sells

Once a solar panel system is up and running, it saves the householder, or property owner money on their electricity bills. It does this by powering the property via the sun’s rays, converted into useable electricity via photovoltaic (PV) panels and associated technology. However, the initial outlay of buying and installing a solar PV system is not insignificant for most household budgets. In fact, it can take a few years for the investment to break even and start saving money – as many as ten or 15 years.

By having everything in place when you buy a property, this outlay has already been made by the previous owners. So, this need not feature in the new owner’s budgeting plans, beyond general maintenance and upgrades as required. Here are some more reasons why solar power systems already installed can be a draw for house hunters.

1. Save on electricity bills

As the solar panel system is already in place, savings can start to be seen on energy bills from the start – when compared to conventional energy sources. It is thought that the average household with a solar energy system installed would only need half the electricity from the National Grid than those without photovoltaic panels on the roof. Buying a house is an expensive time, with all the extra costs that accompany the purchase. So, any extra help with paying the utility bills will be very attractive to prospective buyers

2. Make money on unused electricity

In addition to saving money on bills, new house owners could enjoy an income from the electricity they do not use. This can be sold back to the National Grid under the UK Government’s Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) scheme. For houses that had their solar panels fitted prior to the SEG scheme overtaking the previous Feed-in Tariff (FIT) arrangements, which ended in April 2019, the financial benefits could be even higher. Check out the latest position with regards to this online when you come to sell the property to keep potential buyers informed.

solar panels help sell a house
Solar panel on a wooden house

3. Help combat climate change

It is a well-known fact that sustainable energy sources are a powerful weapon in the fight against climate change. Solar panels can help a household save significantly on the amount of carbon it produces every year. Additionally, the reduced reliance on the National Grid means that fewer fossil fuels are used up to power the property. This could be a very compelling reason why someone keen to lead a sustainable lifestyle may wish to buy a new home with solar panels already in place.

4. Increase your EPC rating

By law, buildings that go up for sale or rent must have an EPC, or Energy Performance Certificate in place. This tells potential buyers how energy efficient the property is and flags up any possible areas of concern. Ratings go from A (the best) down to G and gives an idea of how high the energy bills are likely to be for the property. Landlords seeking to let a property must have an EPC rating of C or above. EPCs are valid for ten years. Solar panels can help increase the energy efficiency of a home, as they help lower energy bills and the associated carbon footprint.

Questions to ask when buying a house with solar panels

For buyers, therefore, choosing a home or property with solar panels can be extremely advantageous. However, it is important to make sure that they are correctly installed and performing as required. Some questions to ask vendors about their solar panels could include:

  • Are the solar panels fitted securely, and have there been any problems with them?
  • When were they installed and how much time remains on any warranties in place?
  • Is there a FIT or SEG arrangement in place to sell any unused electricity back to the National Grid?
  • Do you have a maintenance contract in place and with whom?
  • Does the property come with a solar battery to store energy for later use?

For any further questions on selling or buying a home with solar panels, contact the experts at UPS Solar.

5 Advantages of Installing Flat Roof Solar Panels

When you think of solar panels, we’re betting you conjure up images of a sloping roof with panels fixed on firmly to capture the sun’s energy at an optimum angle. However, the system can work just as effectively on flat roofs as they do on slopping ones. Depending on the type and size of the system you choose, flat roof solar panels can actually work more effectively than some sloping ones. So, whether you are interested in flat roof solar panels for a domestic property or commercial premises, read on to find out the advantages of flat roof solar panels and why they are such a great investment.

Why Choose Flat Roof Solar Panels?

In some cases, the choice of which type of solar panels to invest in is made for you – if you only have space for them on a sloped or flat roof, for example. However, if you do have some flexibility, it is well worth looking into flat roof solar panels. Here are the advantages of flat roof solar panels and why they can be a winning solution.

1. Versatility in How They Are Installed

When you fit solar panels to a sloping roof, you need to work with the existing angle and pitch of the roof. This is not the case for flat roof panel installations. As there is no pitch, the system can be angled as you choose, in order to capture the most sun and work as efficiently as possible. A good angle for solar panels is somewhere between 30 and 60 degrees.

UPS Solar Commercial Solar Panels - advantages of flat roof solar panels

Panels can go in the middle of the flat roof or to either side with no obstacles in their way. Installers use specially designed brackets to fit the flat roof solar panels securely and then angle them exactly as they need to. If there are concerns over whether they will withstand heavy weather conditions, metal frames or ballast can be added for extra support and weight.

2. Self-Cleaning and Safer Maintenance

One concern that many people have about installing solar roof panels is how they can keep them clean and free from damage and general wear and tear. The UK sees a lot of rain, which helps the panels to ‘self-clean’ as the water runs down them. This is still possible on flat roof solar panels, as they can be angled slightly to allow the rain to do its work. Maintenance and repairs can often be easier on flat roofs too, as there is generally enough space around the panels for someone to stand safely for as long as they need when checking and working on the panels.

Solar panels and bad weather

3. Better Looking Configurations

Solar panels can be hard to hide on a sloping roof, as they will stand out visually from many angles. When installing them on a flat roof, however, the angle can be adjusted so it is less intrusive to the surrounding views. They are more discreet from street level and do not require homeowners to remove attractive tiles or terracotta embellishments from a sloping roof. Flat roofs tend to be fairly practical and simple in design, making the addition of a flat roof solar panel less of an intrusion. In fact, some modern, industrial flat roof designs can positively benefit from having stylish flat roof solar panels installed on top of them.

4. More Wind-Proof

We have already mentioned how the rain can still help keep flat roof solar panels clean if they are angled up enough to allow the water to run down them. Conversely, however, the wind can be far less useful to solar panel systems, especially if they are fitted to sloping rooftops that are too tall to withstand high winds without sustaining damage. Choosing your own angle for a flat roof can enable you to adjust the slant to account for high winds and keep the system safer and less prone to storm damage.

House Roof with Solar Panels

5. Easy Access to Green, Renewable Energy

Flat roof solar panels are just as effective as sloped roof configurations in providing renewable, sustainable electricity direct from the sun’s rays. They are made up of the same type of photovoltaic cells, which capture the solar energy before the system converts it into useable electricity for the home or workplace. An additional battery for solar power storage can also be connected to the system so that any surplus electricity that is not used right away can be stored and used later. For example, when the sun’s rays are absent at night, or weaker or obscured during a cloudy or dull day.

Solar Photovoltaic Panels

How Many Types of Solar Panels Do You Know About?

Solar panels have become a common sight on rooftops and flat surfaces across the UK. More and more homes and commercial buildings are benefitting from access to renewable energy from the sun to light, heat and power essential appliances. The working technology of all types of solar panels is straightforward. Photovoltaic cells embedded in solar panels capture energy directly from the sun’s rays and convert it into useable electricity

The electricity can either be used immediately or stored in special batteries for use later on when the sun is not as strong or during the night. However, there are many different types of solar panels to choose from, which makes switching to renewable energy more versatile than ever before.

Panels and their pros (and cons)

The great thing about having different types of solar panels is that you can choose the most effective, convenient and affordable configuration for your individual circumstances. Here are four of the most popular types of solar panels to compare their advantages and disadvantages.

1. Standard solar panels

This type of solar panel is arguably the most recognisable and popular option on sale today. They are sturdy and easy to install and can be positioned to capture as much of the sun’s energy as possible. This accuracy results in higher yields of energy, making returns on the initial investment possible much earlier on. Normally made up of silicon wafers, each panel contains several rows of photovoltaic cells that do the actual conversion work. Monocrystalline cells appear black, while polycrystalline ones have a blue tone, due to how the light interacts with their surfaces.

types of solar panels - standard solar panels

A sheet of glass goes on the top of each panel and the whole unit is framed to add extra rigidity and strength. Pros include easy availability and installation, effective efficient energy conversion and affordable prices. Cons include the fact that other, more modern technology is available for households or businesses looking for the latest innovations in renewable energy.

2. Thin-film solar panels

This lighter option is slowly capturing more and more of the market as people look for less obtrusive ways to generate solar power in their businesses or homes. They are extremely versatile, as they can be manufactured in foldable and roll-up formats. This allows them to be fitted more closely to the contours of an existing roof or flat surface. They can also be fitted to a caravan or mobile home for solar power generation on the move.

types of solar panels

However, they are less efficient than standard solar panels, so they may need to cover a wider surface area to generate the same amount of electricity. They also require more complex disposal at the end of their working life, due to the toxic cadmium telluride that is often contained within the film.

3. Solar tiles

Solar tiles offer the huge advantage of being more aesthetically pleasing than other types of solar panels. They can be interlocked and replace standard roof tiles, rather than being placed on top of them. They can be a more discreet option, and work well on an existing roof, as well as provide an excellent alternative energy course for a new build.

Are Solar Tiles a Good Investment

However, solar tiles are not always as efficient as some of the more traditional solar panel types and can therefore take longer to recoup initial costs via electricity bill reductions. Installation can be costlier too, given the newer technology and more complex interlocking tile layout.

4. Tempered or plate glass solar panels

The type of glass or covering used in solar panels is an extremely important consideration when placing an order. Due to the exposed position of solar panels, they must be able to withstand harsh weather conditions and fluctuating temperatures. Tempered or plate glass adds valuable protection against the elements and adds an extra layer over the delicate photovoltaic cell technology that makes the solar panels work in the first place.

Advantages include longevity for the whole solar power system, as well as improved aesthetics and fewer repairs. Disadvantages exist around the increased price point and heavier weight involved. As with all types of solar panels, those with added tempered or plate glass on top must be fitted by a professional installer. This will ensure maximum efficiency and prevent the risk of the panels getting damaged, slipping off the roof or breaking.

Leyland large scale Solar Panels installation and maintenance

Large Scale Solar: Decarbonising the Global Energy Sector with Solar Power

What Does it Mean to Decarbonise?

Simply put, decarbonisation is the reduction of carbon – zero-carbon. We live in a time where the world is in dire need of economic change, and one of the ways to do that is through minimising our reliance on fossil fuels and making a radical switch to clean energy sources. The long-term goal is to become a climate-resilient, zero-carbon global economy.  Among the many methods to support this, large scale solar power is one of them.

Why Do We Need to Decarbonise?

A major cause of cumulative CO₂ emissions is burning fossil fuels for energy. We know by now that this has led to an increased output of greenhouse gases and, over time, resulted in global warming. The rise in CO₂ output from human activity has negatively impacted our global economy and, in efforts to save our future, nations around the world have pledged to make greener choices to meet global temperature standards set by the Paris Agreement. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has declared that a move to a complete carbon-zero network of the energy sector by 2050 is non-negotiable to meet the target of capping global temperature rise at 1.5°C. 

How Do We Achieve Low-Carbon?

Since the announcement of the climate emergency, there has been the worldwide implementation of renewable energy like wind, solar and nuclear power and bioenergy. Decarbonised electricity can be used for the same uses as fossil fuels, for example, boilers for building heating. 

The UK has the ambition to be powered by affordable, clean energy by 2035. Plans include deploying a new generation of home-grown green technologies, including solar – which remains the third-largest renewable energy technology. 

What is Solar Power?

Solar power is the energy ‘captured’ from the sun that is used to generate electricity. As more and more people strive to become energy-efficient and reduce their energy costs, solar has become a widespread option. Its increase in affordability and ease of use has made it a popular choice amongst UK households. What’s more, depending on your energy supplier, you can even receive payments for extra energy you generate. 

Large scale solar power

How do Solar Panels Work?

Solar panels convert sunlight into electrical energy through photovoltaic (PV) panels. When light shines on the semi-conductive material, a direct current of electricity is created and passes through the system to eventually get usable energy to electrify your home. The PV panels react to visible light – so as long as it’s light enough to see, the panel can generate electricity. 

Rooftop solar can create thermal energy that can be used to provide heat in your home from water heating and air heating and essentially supply households with decentralized heating. With the use of storage batteries, unused energy can be stored and used at a later time. 

How is Solar Energy Used Globally?

Solar thermal energy for heating water and air in households and buildings is only one of the uses of this alternative energy source. There is growing ambition that utility-scale solar will be used for end-use electrification (e.g. vehicles, transport, water heating, etc) and production of clean fuels, like hydrogen. 

The US and China are top traders in the solar market and the US has plans to transition to a zero-carbon electric grid by 2050. This type of green technology has been adopted worldwide and is deployed for small and large-scale uses.

Advantages of Large Scale Solar Power

1. Renewable

As mentioned earlier, solar panels generate electricity from visible light. Since there is daytime light in all four corners of the earth, solar power can work. However, the more sunshine there is, the more electricity will be generated – making this a great renewable option for sunnier climates. There is also the added fact that sunlight is an inexhaustible source of energy, and can be used without much consequence for future generations. 

The carbon footprint is relatively small as no pollutants are released into the air. Higher demand for solar power worldwide means a reduction in the dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels. Also, the materials usually used – silicon sheets – are recyclable, making solar power a clean alternative energy source.

2. Money-saving

The more power your solar panels would generate, the less electricity you would have to buy from the grid, therefore making this cheaper in the long run. Additionally, solar power in the UK is being financially incentivised, as households can receive payments for extra electricity generated. 

3. Low maintenance

Solar panels don’t contain any loose or moving parts, so require minimal maintenance. Since the panels are usually placed at an angle on houses and buildings, rainfall slides right down them. Dirt and debris may block the panels and require you to remove them but other than that, it’s a self-sufficient system. Solar panels also have a life span of about 20-25 years, with little loss in efficiency. 

4. Efficient

When transmitting energy from power stations to homes and public buildings, there is unavoidable energy loss through heating the power lines. Less energy is wasted when using the sun to produce heat or electricity, as the power comes directly from the panel connected to your building. 

5. Land-use

Large scale solar parks can co-exist amongst farm animals grazing on land – this is called agrivoltaic. The simultaneous use of land benefits landowners, the environment, and animals. The photovoltaic panels can also be removed without harm to the ground.

Large scale solar can also appear as floating solar (solar panels on water) doesn’t require any land space and so can be a viable option for smaller countries. 

6. Rise in ‘green’ careers

With the continuing demand for solar, there will be a proportionate rise in demand for solar power transportation and installation jobs. An example of this large scale solar power is in India, where a 250 MW concentrated solar power (CSP) project has become a source of local jobs.  

Demand for large scale solar power

Challenges in Decarbonising the Energy Sector

Sustainable development has its challenges – socially, economically and ecologically. Energy transition needs to be compatible with social aspects (household costs) as well as environmental sustainability (protecting land and climate) and economic needs (security of energy supply and prices). 

  • Levelised cost of energy (LCOE)

Capital costs of large scale solar deployment run high in comparison to competing fuel sources. 

Moreover, ongoing maintenance costs of solar power plants may be steep, along with refinancing the loans used to build them.

  • Weather-dependent

One of the main obstacles to solar power becoming a reliable green energy source is the varying intensities of solar radiation in different areas of the world. Nations on the equator receive the highest amount of solar energy, as do those with drier climates. 

Most residential panels have around a 20% efficiency rate, and anything more than that will be substantially more expensive. The more efficient the panels, the more expensive it is to make. 

  • Land space

Large areas of land are required for macro-scale solar farms. The biggest solar grids are built in large open spaces such as deserts, so countries with less landmass, or have to compromise agricultural land, will be disadvantaged. 

  • Environmental impacts

The manufacturing of solar panels can result in harmful compounds, such as nitrogen trifluoride. This by-product is a highly toxic greenhouse gas, much more insidious than carbon dioxide. But as solar technology gains more accessibility and demand, manufacturers may be able to steer clear of dangerous substances.  

On a global scale, large scale solar power seems to be a very valuable option – according to the three pillars of sustainability (social, economic, ecological). On reviewing the arguments, the advantages seem to outweigh the challenges in the long term. The trend of falling prices for solar power will make the transition to a solar-powered, carbon-free global economy highly achievable. 

House Roof with Solar Panels

Benefits of Insulated Solar Roof Panels

As the technology behind solar energy grows more sophisticated, the possibilities about what it can achieve are increasing. Insulated Solar Roof Panels are a popular choice for solar power as they are straightforward to install on most roof shapes and sizes. They work by harnessing the sun’s energy and converting it into electricity. This electricity is then used to heat and power the home or commercial premises. On the other hand, Solar thermal panels capture solar energy that goes directly to generating hot water for the property. However, some types of solar thermal systems can offer additional benefits too. Thermal insulated solar roof panels can add a crucial heat retention layer to the property.

Four Key Questions About Solar Thermal Panels

Solar thermal and insulated solar roof panels can help reduce heating costs when rising fuel bills are top of the UK news agenda. It is worth working out how the initial in-roof solar panels UK cost can be offset against the savings you can achieve on mains electricity. For an idea of the average solar thermal system and roof-integrated solar panels UK cost, speak to an expert at UPS Solar. In the meantime, here are four questions about insulated solar thermal panels.

SHARP 300w Solar Panels - Insulated Solar Roof Panels

1. How Do Solar Panels Insulate Your Roof?

The primary way that solar technology can add insulation is by installing in-roof panels. These are not the same as standard photovoltaic solar panels that sit on top of the existing roof. Insulated solar in-roof panels do precisely what their name suggests. They are fitted into the roof, replacing some tiles and lying flat against the adjoining ones. This removes gaps between tiles where draughts can get inside the property. The evacuated tube collectors of solar thermal panels are also designed with vacuum insulation capabilities to reduce heat loss further. Householders living in listed buildings may need planning permission to fit solar thermal panels and insulated in-roof solar panel systems.

2. Does Solar Thermal Power Work in the Winter?

Solar thermal technologies are a highly effective way to produce hot water. The technology has been around for a while – longer than more modern solar PV panels – yet it can be far more efficient, capturing more energy and converting it into heat for water more quickly. The process can still be used to ensure hot water during the winter, although the solar energy output will be lower on dull days than during sunnier periods.

Benefits of Insulated Solar Roof Panels

You may need to supplement it with more conventional methods of heating water on especially overcast winter days. However, the solar thermal power produced will still help keep energy bills lower in the long run. It is advisable to check on your solar thermal power in-roof panels during heavy snow. This is because the system’s insulating properties will prevent any heat from escaping to melt away the settled snow. So, you may need to remove it manually to ensure the system is running as efficiently as possible.

3. Can Solar Panels Make a House Cooler?

Conversely, installing solar thermal panels can also help keep a house cool in the summer. The multiple layers of an in-roof solar thermal system promote airflow between each one. While this offers insulation during colder periods, the air can also cool the panel down when temperatures are higher and, subsequently, the roof beneath it. This can make a difference to temperatures inside the house during hotter weather. Not having to have a gas boiler or mains electric heating system switched on so high to ensure hot water for bathing, cooking, cleaning, etc., can also help reduce the overall heat level in the house on a summer’s day.

Benefits of Insulated Solar Roof Panels

4. Which is more efficient: solar thermal or PV?

PV technology converts solar power into usable electricity, whereas solar thermal systems provide hot water. Solar thermal panels installed on a roof comprise thermal flat plates or evacuated tubes collectors that use the sun’s energy to produce hot water. This is then passed through pipes and stored in the property’s hot water cylinder for use when required. Solar temperatures hitting the collectors can reach up to 90 degrees C, making the system highly effective and quick. Solar thermal panels’ price differences will depend on the size and type of solar thermal system.

Photovoltaic panels are also effective in converting solar energy into electricity. However, this is used or stored for general use, including heating and power. You can also use electricity from PV panels to charge an electric vehicle. Installation is also easier than solar thermal panels. However, the initial price of the system can be higher. Both systems could make the householder eligible for renewable heat incentive (RHI) payment schemes. In terms of which is more efficient, both offer advantages. The final choice of system will depend entirely on what you plan to use solar energy for – general heating, powering and charging, or simply hot water.