In 1992 there was just 100MW of solar capacity in the UK and this jumped up to 300GW by 2016 – the majority of which was driven by the falling cost in the technology which has made it accessible to homeowners. Impressively there are now more than one million homes in the UK with either solar PV panels or solar thermal systems. This shows that solar power is not a tiny movement anymore – it is very popular and mainstream.
However, it has been suggested that the reduction in solar costs is drawing to a conclusion – panels aren’t likely to get much cheaper to install – so what does this mean for domestic solar panels? Are we still likely to see a growth in the number of homes that have solar panels installed or will the numbers tail off?
There are actually a large number of factors influencing the future of domestic solar panels, so here we take a look at what might be in store.
An increasing public conscience for green technology
It has been well documented that there is a greater demand from the public to have technologies in their home that are good for the planet and the environment. We are seeing a change in the public perception of solar panels – once it was thought of as a good thing because it had the ability to reduce domestic bills and could pay for itself in a number of years.
Now the onus is more on doing the right thing – more people are interested in having solar panels installed as an ethical decision, whether it is a good move financially or not.
Is it still a smart financial move?
The latest trends in solar panels have been around innovations that make it easier than ever before to set up large scale, commercial installations for businesses and investors. This has meant that many homeowners who have been considering having solar panels installed, have not seen great advances in the kinds of panels they can have installed.
But has this caused an issue with the affordability of panels? One of the major attractions of getting solar panels installed in the past has been the fact that they will pay for themselves in reduced energy costs. But is this still the case?
It has been suggested that solar panels will pay for themselves, however you are in for a relatively long wait. Studies found that an average solar panel installation will see a return at around the 20th year from it being installed. Of course this can vary on a huge range of factors including huge much the installation cost and whereabouts in the country you are based.
Technology is still evolving
Even today there are evolving technologies that have enormous potential to make a huge difference to home solar panels. One of the most interesting advances is in a mineral called perovskite which appears to have enormous potential in creating an alternative to dye-sensitive cells.
Perovskite can be extremely efficient in PV cells and it could be used to allow for the easy manufacturing of cheap and reliable solar coatings. The mineral works by capturing energy from a different part of the wavelength of sunlight than you would get from traditional solar panels. This means that when the two technologies are combined it can hugely increase their capacity to capture solar power.
Unlike many revolutionary technologies, perovskite has the advantage that it is not working against the existing industry – it is simply in a place where it can refine it.
Ultimately, then, solar panels have a bright future and if you are thinking of having them installed in your property, this could work out very well. It is always best to have a discussion with professionals in the industry to understand whether or not your home is suited to having solar panels installed. However, with technology changing all the time you may find that there are new methods that can help you get more from your panels.