Industry News

New solar panel offer for British Homes

Research reveals scale of potential solar market as British Gas launches new solar panel offering

As many as half of Britain's homes could earn around £600 a year from roof top solar panels with some earning as much as £1000, according to Britain's biggest energy supplier, British Gas.

Research carried out by the company suggests that over 12 million households have roofs that could benefit from solar panel installations which would produce enough electricity for up to half their household needs.i

By cutting their electricity bill and earning money through the Government's Feed-in Tariff scheme - a scheme that pays owners of solar panels for the ‘renewable' electricity they generate - the average household would be better off by around £600 a year and those with bigger systems could benefit by up to £1000ii. Collectively, British homes could be £7bn a year better off.iii

The market for solar installations and other microgeneration technology in the UK is expected to grow rapidly with the new Government support scheme. British Gas predicts that within a decade, one quarter of households will have small-scale microgeneration technology in their homes.

Solar energy will also enable millions of consumers to benefit from carbon savings. An average rooftop could save up to 692 kg of CO2 each per yeariv. As a nation, this means we could make a saving of over 8.5 million tonnes of CO2.

Having been piloting the technology for some time, British Gas is today announcing a major ramp up of its solar offering for British homes. Through, mySolar Energy, British Gas will provide an end-to-end solar installation service, carrying out a thorough energy assessment of the home, installing the panels, providing all customers with a CEPP (Certificate of Expected Panel Performance) to demonstrate the expected value of the panel if customers were to sell the property, and helping its customers apply for the Feed-in-Tariff. The performance of the solar PV panels are guaranteed for 25 years and all work will be carried out by fully trained British Gas staff.

British Gas is ramping up its activity in two ways. Firstly, customers can choose to have the panels installed at no upfront cost under its innovative "rent a roof" scheme. Under this scheme the householders will benefit from the electricity they generate although they will not own the panels and so British Gas will claim the Feed-In Tariff. The deal will only be open to British Gas customers and be limited to 1500 installs to begin with. Alternatively, customers can also buy the solar panels outright and keep the Feed-In Tariff income themselves. To help our customers buy the panels, a two year 0% APR finance deal is being provided.

Financial expert, Jasmine Birtles, has joined forces with British Gas to help consumers maximise their investment in solar energy:

"Installing solar panels will create a regular, tax-free income for homeowners. Not only that but the income is index-linked and guaranteed by the Government for the next 25 years. As it typically gives returns of 5-8% it's potentially far better than most current bond or gilt investments. It is also a great way to keep your electricity bills down. It seems like a win-win situation to me!"

Jon Kimber, Managing Director of British Gas New Energy, said:

"Solar power will revolutionise the way British homes generate and use energy. British Gas, the largest energy supplier in the UK, is leading the way, helping our customers reap the benefits of this technology to cut their electricity bills, reduce their carbon footprint and earn a yearly income. British Gas is already one of the largest installers of solar panels in the UK, and we intend to be the leading player in this sector."

British Gas is an established provider of solar panels through its wholly owned subsidiary, Solar Technologies, and has been responsible for installing panels on many UK land mark buildings from London City Hall and the HSBC headquarters in Canary Wharf through to local churches such as St Silas' Church in London. Today's announcement sees British Gas expand its offering for its domestic customers.

Case study

John Keown lives in Oxfordshire with his wife and three children and had solar panels installed by British Gas on his home earlier this year.

Mr Keown said:

"For my family, solar panels have been a better investment than any ISA you could buy. I know people worry about the upfront cost but you need to think of it as a long term investment. I have been delighted with the performance of my solar panels and I've been really surprised at how much energy is produced even when the sun isn't shining. I had a misconception that the sun needed to shine for the panels to work but in fact, they just need light.

"I chose British Gas because it's a company you can trust and you know will be around forever."

Tips

Jasmine Birtles has compiled five top tips to help more consumers reap the benefits:

  1. Solar panels are a sound investment. Buying solar panels is currently one of the best financial investments around - tax-free, index linked and with payments guaranteed by the Government which typically give returns at 5-8%.
  2. Weigh up the options. If you are attracted by ‘free' solar panel offers, check the conditions. Many of the ‘rent a roof' packages for example, only offer free panels for very large roofs. And remember you will only benefit from the savings on electricity bills with the free panels - the company that installs and owns the panels are likely to get the payments for the electricity produced.
  3. Do your research. If you're buying the panels upfront, check they come with a warranty. And if you're opting for ‘free' solar panels, make sure you get them from a reputable company as this is likely to be a long term contract.
  4. Avoid extra borrowing costs. Look into whether suppliers are offering interest free finance deals to help you get started. If not, try buying them with a 0% APR on purchases credit card.
  5. Find out if your home is suitable. British Gas is helping customers decide how they can cash in by encouraging them to go on to their website to find out more.

-EndsNotes to editorsFor media enquiries please contact Lauren Goddard, Catherine Bayles or Jo Trigg at Blue Rubicon on 0207 260 2700 or email britishgasretail@bluerubicon.com

Alternatively, please contact Elliott Grady in the British Gas press office on 0845 072 8002 or email Elliott.Grady@centrica.com

1. Any customer purchasing solar panels from British Gas from 25th August can apply for two year 0% APR interest financing via a third party provider. To find out more information, customers should call 0800 980 9035.

2. British Gas is offering solar panels at no upfront cost to domestic British Gas customers only at two different sizes - 3.15kWP and 2.5kWp. To find out more information and register online, customers should visit www.britishgas.co.uk/solaroffers.

3. Where a customer purchases panels, the Government's Feed-in-Tariff gives three financial benefits:
• A payment for all the electricity you produce, even if you use it yourself
• Additional bonus payments for electricity you are deemed to have exported into the grid
• A reduction on your standard electricity bill, from using energy you produce yourself (based on a like for like usage).

4. Jasmine Birtles is a financial expert, TV presenter, author, journalist and business commentator. Her mission is to de-mystify money and give practical advice to help people get out of debt and manage their finances by spending less, making more and investing for a secure future. She has set up, and runs, Moneymagpie.com, a lifestyle-based money website which has information on all aspects of personal finance, environmental and ethical living and how to run a small business and make extra money.

i Based on a survey of 500 properties undertaken for the British Gas Green Streets 2010 project. Roofs were deemed suitable for solar PV where there was enough unshaded space on a SW, SE or S facing roof-top.
ii British Gas figures show that home owners with a large array (2.52kWp systems) will make around £884 a year from the generation part of the Feed-In Tariff and £32 from the export part. They would save £122 a year from their electricity bill. This is the annual cash boost of £1000. An average sized array (1.4) would save around £600 a year (£491 from the generation part of FiT, £17 from the export part of the tariff and a £67 saving on the electricity bills. Households need to own the solar panels to be eligible for the Feed-In Tariff and will not be eligible for the Feed-In Tariff under the "rent a roof scheme". A reduction in electricity cost is based on a like for like usage.
iii Based on the average amount of money that can be generated - this will be variable according to roof and therefore solar panel size. This also assumes that all properties in the UK that are suitable for solar PV systems takes them up under the current FIT arrangements as set out by the Government and with electricity prices as they are today.
iv Assuming that the average solar PV installation is 1.5kWp. The carbon intensity of electricity is assumed to be 0.543kgCO2/kWh

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