Hybrid Car – More Fun with Less Gas

Solar panels 'take 100 years to pay back installation costs'

register ::  Login Password  :: Lost Password?
Posted by RF on September 6, 2008, 6:33 am

Solar panels 'take 100 years to pay back
installation costs'

By Martin Hickman, Consumer Affairs Correspondent
Wednesday, 3 September 2008
A study suggests that solar panels are less
cost-effective in saving on heating bills than
loft and wall insulation

A study suggests that solar panels are less
cost-effective in saving on heating bills than
loft and wall insulation

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.

Posted by Morris Dovey on September 6, 2008, 6:57 am
RF wrote:

Article about PV costs in the UK mis-posted to alt.solar.thermal

Passive solar air-heating panels are doing considerably better in the
US. :-)

Morris Dovey
DeSoto Solar
DeSoto, Iowa USA

Posted by Eric Sears on September 6, 2008, 10:50 am

This assumes that loft and wall insulation is not already installed.
In many countries (eg NZ) such insulation had been mandatory for new
buildings for a good number of years

Sorry, I don't have much faith in Institutes of Chartered Surveyors.

What planet do they live on? Average costs in NZ seem to be $000,
which equates to about 1800 pounds (sorry - can't do that symbol!)

I built my own for less than $00.

I'm not sure if this is "the whole push" - though I agree that some
people get "sucked in" by the advertising.

Most older houses in NZ are very costly to retrofit with cavity-wall
insulation - though we did it to half a house at minimal cost by NOT
getting in some expert to do it!
Obviously when building new, insulation in important - that's why its
mandatory. But that doesn't have anything to do with whether solar
water heating is effective/economic. Its should not be a matter of
choosing EITHER insulation OR solar hot water. Judge each on its
merits (if its not mandatory where you live).
And as the other respondent pointed out - solar AIR heating can be
very cost effective (thanks for your good website showing your solar
space heating panels - excellent stuff).


Posted by Mauried on September 9, 2008, 5:23 am


A lot of people dont know this.
You would be amazed at the number of people who are ultra eager to put
solar panels on their roofs,  but have no interest in better
insulation in their roof.
Solar Panels are seen as hi tech and enviromentally friendly.
Roof insulation isnt.

In Australia, the Govt will give you up to $000 if you put solar
panels on your roof, but you wont get a red cent to put better
insulation in your roof.

Its just looney.

This Thread
Bookmark this thread:
  • Subject
  • Author
  • Date
please rate this thread