One of the perils of being a reluctant capitalist is the cognitive dissonance. Normally, on a sunny day, I look outside and smile. Blue skies, warmth, chance for an ice cream, people smiling, lovely.
Yesterday, I saw the sun was shining, I rubbed my hands together and let out an Mr Burns-esque chuckle of delight.
Last November, we installed solar panels on our roof. The Government ensures that if you generate electricity, you get paid for it. There’s also a payment for surplus energy you sell back to the grid. Of course, electricity bills are also reduced.
After 6 months of waiting for E.on to pull their finger out, we finally received our first payment.
Five hundred quid! Tax free! That’s for the 6 months between November and May – traditionally not the sunniest part of the year!
In the last 6 months, we’ve generate around 1,120 kW of electricity – almost exactly on target!
Of course, there’s a moral component to this. Every kWh of energy generated from the sun means one less kWh generated by burning coal or oil. There’s no nuclear waste to clear up after my solar panels reach the end of their life. The people living in the house have more money to spend or save.
I keep having to remind myself that this is an investment. In approximately 10 years the cost of the panels will be repaid. The FIT is guaranteed for 25 years (rising with inflation). So I have a decade to wait before I’m truly extracting cash from cucumbers, but it’s a promising start!