Another in my occasional series of blog posts about our solar panels.
We've just done a reading for 21 November to 21 February. Right in line with expectations, we generated 205kWh - netting us ~£96 from the Feed In Tariff.
Over 15 months we've generated a total of 3376kWh. Again, totally in line with the top end of expectations. Which gives me happy feelings whenever I see the sun shine.
So why aren't more people doing this? The prices of solar panels have fallen so much that a regular 4kWh installation costs around £7,000. Granted, that's a chunk of money - but it's nothing compared to the price of a house. Why isn't every new-build house kitted out with one?
The point of solar power (in the UK at least) is not to go "off grid" or be completely energy independent. The point is to reduce the load on the existing grid and to give us more time to construct extra, greener energy generating capacity.
Our personal electricity usage is about 13kWh per day. Call it 5,000kWh per year. At the moment, we generate roughly half of that through solar power. Sure, a large part of our usage happens at night when the sun isn't shining - but it's easily enough to drop the load required for powering the fridge, washing machine, broadband and wifi, and all the other devices left on during the day.
Better local storage of energy would be nice, but given we can export it to people who are using electricity - it's not vital.
Just imagine if we could cut the cost of our electricity bills in half - permanently!
As Professor Sue Roaf pointed out in a comment on The Guardian, the UK is proposing a £240 Billion subsidy for new nuclear plants. That's £10,000 for each household - enough to pay for solar panels, insulation, smart meters, and more efficient heating equipment.
Surely that's the sensible way to go? Give every household a £10k subsidy which they can spend on reducing energy usage and generating their own power. This is cheap and reliable technology which - crucially - has no chance of melting down and causing a nuclear winter. Getting installers working would boost employment all over the country, would lift thousands of families out of fuel poverty, and provide the country with energy security for the future.
That can never happen; it's far too sensible.