I promised to explain today why I believe the income stream from PV panels over 25 years will not prove as good an investment as some people are led to believe. Certainly the income stream is guaranteed by the government; certainly all legal measures have been taken to ensure that the installation of PV panels will qualify for the feed in tariff; certainly the PV panels will generate electricity and certainly the electricity they generate will be properly metered and fed into the grid. However, they are not a suitable investment for securitisation in my view.
First, we have to consider the amount of electricity that will be generated. At the 25 year fixed feed in tariff of 43p per kWh (the top tariff shortly to be replaced by a tariff of half that amount) an average south facing roof covered with PV will produce an income from the government of around £1500. In the first year, that is.
Thereafter, the panels will degrade, like everything else degrades. PV installations have not been monitored for 25 years so the precise degradation in performance has not been measured properly. Best estimates are that the panels in themselves will produce 1% less electricity, on a compounded basis, year on year. That means that in ten years time the panels will produce maybe an income of £1000, rather than £1500.
Secondly, as climate change kicks in so it is likely that our summers will get hotter and hotter. That is a good thing if you like hot weather, but not a good thing for PV producing electricity. PV produces the best output at lowish temperatures. If you sit by a feed in meter and watch the production of electricity on a very hot day in July in bright sunshine you will see that electricity production is much less than in bright milder weather.
Thirdly, I expect some installations will break down from time to time. PV systems need an inverter because PV produces DC electricity which has to be inverted to AC before it can be fed in to the grid. Inverters break down and wear out and need to be replaced and there will be times over the life of a PV system when the PV array is not working because the inverter needs to be replaced.
Finally, I expect accidents will happen to PV systems, especially if the house owner is trying to sell his house and finds that the PV system is making that process hard.
The problem is not with PV, or indeed not even with the undesirably high feed in tariff. The problem is that instead of becoming a genuine micro energy investment for a home owner, PV has become a spiv type business, where unsuspecting people of good intentions are being persuaded to grant leases of their homes’ roofs for 25 years in order to profit a hard selling organisation that cares not for the environment but for their own profit.
Filed under: climate change, electricity, global warming, PV, solar | Tagged: investing in income streams from PV arrays | 3 Comments »