After hydro and wind power, solar photovoltaics are the third most important renewable energy source in terms of globally installed capacity.
LEAP sells an electrical generation system called Solar Volt, a ‘grid tied’ design that is an extremely simple system to install and comprises three components: 1) solar panels 2) a power inverter and 3) a smart meter.
The solar panels are a polycrystalline German designed (manufactured in Poland, Germany and Malaysia) and the limit on the number of panels comes down to roof space and cost. Each panel produces circa 250W of electricity. The panels are wired together and this wire goes down to an EnaSolar inverter that can be mounted on a wall in the garage or similar area. Installation of the inverter takes minutes and it must be wired to both the solar panels and the power meter. The power meter is supplied by the power company who will install it in the meter box. Once this is done you sit back and enjoy the free power.
The smart meter decides where the generated electricity goes i.e. if you have current demand in your house then your solar panels directly power your house. If you produce excess power then the smart meter returns this to the grid which the power company buys off you. (However power suppliers all have different buy back rates.)
As an indication of size, a 3kW packaged system is the biggest seller. This uses around 25m2 of roof space and can produce up to 9 units of electricity a day. Unlike heat based systems, SolarVolt only requires solar light so as long as the sun is bright the solar panels work well (winter or summer). To maximise gain the panels may need to be installed at an angle to the roof, which LEAP experts can advise on.
There are many different suppliers of solar panels and different prices and quality to match, so it pays to shop around when purchasing an electricity based system. Despite the increasing maturity of solar panel technology, efficiency is still only around 15%. Suppliers can confirm the power rating, efficiency and their use of Anti PID technology. Solar panels degrade with time but you should expect at least 80% of the original efficiency after 20-25 years.