FAQs – Solar PV

Frequently Asked Questions about Solar PV 

1. Why should I install a PV system?

By installing a PV system, occupiers can generate their own ‘green’ electricity, not only reducing electricity bills but helping to offset carbon emissions. PV will play an increasingly important role in contributing towards ‘sustainable development’.

Key advantages of this type of electricity generation include:

  • Emission free
  • Noise free
  • Requires minimal maintenance (no moving parts)
  • Can be integrated in, or mounted onto an existing building structure
  • Causes minimal visual intrusion 

2. Will I need planning permission?

Recent changes to planning guidance mean that you do not have to seek planning permission for roof mounted solar systems less than 200mm above your roof or for ground-mounted systems under 9m₂ unless your array is intended for a listed building. In the case of a listed building, you will need to apply for consent from your local planning authority.

However, some local authorities will insist that you acquire planning consent regardless, particularly if your potential site is in a protected area.

Therefore, always check before going ahead as retrospective permissions can be difficult to obtain. 

3. What is solar PV?

There are two types of solar PV. The most robust and efficient solar PV cells at present are made from silicon crystal and are either mono-crystalline (extracted from a single crystal) or poly-crystalline (made up of many crystals). The alternative option is a thin-film solution, which is more flexible but less efficient.

These two types of solar technologies are then incorporated into the following:

PV Panels/ Modules

Most PV systems are formed of an array of PV modules. These modules comprise a series of interconnected PV cells, laminated between glass and a back-sheet and held within a rigid aluminium frame. PV modules are usually the most cost effective solution and can be combined to form an array of the correct size for your building and electricity demand.

PV Tiles

PV tiles are a type of Building Integrated PV (BIPV). They can be used to directly replace standard roof tiles. They are usually more expensive than modules, but can be very cost effective where they are used to replace other building materials.

PV Glazing/Cladding

PV glazing can also be used to replace conventional building materials. PV glazing provides shelter, shading and electricity in one material. Like glazing, solar cladding can also be used in the place of other materials and can be made bespoke in order to fit the solar features of your site and electricity demand.

Solar PV could be a good option if you are considering replacing part of a roof or building façade. In some cases, solar materials may work out cheaper than conventional building materials or even offset their cost. If your potential site is a new build, it is worth considering whether you could build electricity generation into the actual fabric of the building.

4. Are there different types of PV?

There are two types of solar PV. The most robust and efficient solar PV cells at present are made from silicon crystal and are either mono-crystalline (extracted from a single crystal) or poly-crystalline (made up of many crystals). The alternative option is a thin-film solution, which is more flexible but less efficient.

These two types of solar technologies are then incorporated into the following:

PV Panels/ Modules

Most PV systems are formed of an array of PV modules. These modules comprise a series of interconnected PV cells, laminated between glass and a back-sheet and held within a rigid aluminum frame. PV modules are usually the most cost effective solution and can be combined to form an array of the correct size for your building and electricity demand.

PV Tiles

PV tiles are a type of Building Integrated PV (BIPV). They can be used to directly replace standard roof tiles. They are usually more expensive than modules, but can be very cost effective where they are used to replace other building materials.

PV Glazing/Cladding

PV glazing can also be used to replace conventional building materials such as the glass roof of a conservatory. PV glazing functions to provide shelter, shading and electricity in one material. Like glazing, solar cladding can also be used in the place of other materials and can be made bespoke in order to fit the solar features of your site and electricity demand.

Solar PV could be a good option if you are considering replacing part of a roof or building façade. In some cases, solar materials may work out cheaper than conventional building materials or even offset their cost. If your potential site is a new build, it is worth considering whether you could build electricity generation into the actual fabric of the building.

5. My roof doesn’t face south; is that a problem?

The more south-facing a PV system can be, the better, as this means more sunlight will reach the PV cells. However, PV arrays will continue to work effectively at other orientations – from east through to west.

That said, annual output can be reduced if the array faces significantly away from the south.

6. How much space does a PV system need?

There are many different ways of mounting a solar PV system. Generally, a 1kWp system requires approximately 8m² of roof space. If there is not enough room to mount a PV system on your roof, then Dulas would recommend a ground mounted PV system if space permits.

7. My roof has some shading on it; is that a problem?

Significant shading over a PV solar system would have an effect as the efficiency of a PV array does depend on how much sunlight it receives. However, power optimisers can be used to maximise the energy harvest from your PV system. Power optimisers work by individually tuning the performance of the panel through maximum power point tracking. Dulas will recommend power optimisers if all or part of your solar array is shaded during daylight hours (by trees or buildings, for example). 

8. How do I register my PV system for the Feed-in Tariff?

For systems below 50kW, Dulas will register you on the central FiT database once your installation is complete and you will then receive a certificate confirming FiT compliance. For systems above 50kW, Dulas will guide you through the necessary process to obtain your certificate.

You must then inform your chosen energy supplier that you are eligible to receive the FIT by providing the certificate. Once the supplier has cross referenced your installation with the central FiT database and is happy that your solar PV system does register for the FiT scheme, it will transfer payments at regular intervals, pre-determined by you and your energy supplier. You may be required to provide meter readings to the suppliers if requested.

See the list of Registered FIT licensed suppliers here

9. How long will my installed PV system last?

The modules that Dulas supplies come with the following warranty:

90% of specified power output after 10 years (at standard test conditions).

80% of specified power output after 20 years (at standard test conditions).

In addition, Dulas guarantees the system is free from defects in materials and workmanship under normal use for a period of two years.

10. What ongoing costs and maintenance will be involved?

There is no flat rate for the installation of a solar PV system. Please contact Dulas to discuss your needs and to receive a free no-obligation quotation. Click here to contact us

In terms of running costs, a particular advantage of solar PV, even over other types of renewable energy systems, is that running costs are very low. The installation requires no fossil fuel to run and since there are no moving parts (unless a tracking device is used) the system will need very little maintenance, if any.

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