Photovoltaic solar panels

(Chris Lawton) #1

We are having a new garage built and thinking of installing solar electricity at the same time on the large, south-facing, sloping roof, but I am totally confused by the all the info on tariffs, tax beaks etc. Anyone who can give me the lowdown?

(Heather Stackelberg) #2

We have now cleared up this question of off-grid. It is Ok to have some of your own power off grid (but wiser to run two systems parallel with EDF).

Can't however, find a company which also installs battery storage systems in France. Do you know anythng about that?

(Heather Stackelberg) #3

Ah, so that's the sticking point. Basically we have to find an electrician who can do it (and maintain it?) without us being contracted to a big company.

Thanks for the info!

(Brian Milne) #4

The people we know have installed themselves, one of them is an electrician, and have secondary circuitry. They either run off their own power or EDF as and when necessary. EDF cannot really stop people going off grid, there are people who choose to disconnect who have water and wind generated power in parts of France. What is not allowed is when one of the companies working with EDF who provide the installations set you up then you will be contractually bound to EDF for X years and would not be allowed to disconnect and use the panels and other apparatus to generate power yourselves.

(Heather Stackelberg) #5

Yes, we have already considered this - but we would need somebody to do the installation work. I have heard that EDF will not allow you to go off grid. Can this be true?!

(Brian Milne) #6

It is possible and I know two sets of French people who have it, albeit with EDF as their constant/backup. If you want to do it, buy there in Germany and bring them with you. Both of these households, who are doing things together, bought there because the panels are cheaper.

(Heather Stackelberg) #7

I know this thread is old now but I would like to resuscitate it.

We are hoping to find a solution to our electric radiators (in the house when we bought it) as it is obviously too expensive. We still live in Germany and will be moving to France come summer 15. We want to have solar panels to generate our own electricity but have been told fromvarious people that it is not possible. You have to feed it into the EDF network and get little reurn. it all sounds ridiculous.

What is the situation actually ??


(Brian Milne) #8

18 degrees! Are you looking at the panel temperature or water temperature? Our panels are at least 18 at night! The water is permanently around 55.6 (we are set for 56 top, had nearly 80 like Terry at one stage before it was turned down because it had badly scolded a daughter's hand). If our water temperature drops to below 38, if the stove is on (of course) then that takes over. Maybe early November at a guess, although stove will be on in October. We have had the electricty on to heat water perhaps eight times in three years, each time after returning home after being away too long for the stove to keep going (a week, for instance). Last winter, wood kept our water hot enough for all of us to shower, do all domestic hot water stuff and have a permanent surplus.

(Terry Williams) #9

Emily, if your solar hot water panels only heat the water to 18 degrees then they're not working at all. The water would be almost that warm without the panels. Our two panels (4 sq metres all told) heat the water to the maximum allowed 80 degrees throughout the summer, and in winter the temperature almost never drops below 40 degrees when the wood pellet boiler takes over. Get someone in to check it out. Maybe not whoever it was installed the system.

(Norman Montefusco) #10

In UK I worked for The Loft Shop and they dealt with a german company called Roto for their roof windows. Roto also produce many other things to a very high standard including solar systems. Their website is in german and english and their support staff also speak english.

(Brian Milne) #11

Just so people know, before they start to ask, gasification (of wood) boilers are designed for burning fire wood, short bits of any wood, fresh sawdust, wet chips and cuttings and other wet biomass. They also come with a pellet burner secondary burner/boiler and are the most heat production efficient means of all but really expensive.

(Brian Milne) #12

Think that's what we have, rings a bell. The same goes for the wood into gas burners.

(Terry Williams) #13

Agree about buying German equipment Brian. Our solar hot water panels are German and the pellet central heating is Austrian. We have had no problems. Our neighbours who bought French had years of problems before getting their system to work.

Chris, you could look at Wagner (the company not the composer!)

(Brian Milne) #14

The guy who installed our solar, central heating and so on (English) and the electrician (French) who did that bit of the work have advised us only to consider buying German made photovoltaic and the buy/sell back schemes are such a mess not to bother. However, for self-standing things like workshop/freezer supply a good move although the investment takes a while to pay off.

Geothermal requires a comprehensive geological survey. We cannot consider it because we have too many bits of terrain that would require prohibitively expensive work on bedrock just under thin soil. Our surveyor was Swedish and has been doing geothermal power surveys in Spain for over 10 years.

In both, there are so many cowboys who appear to be selling/installing up to the moment technology. A lot of that is bulk bought Chinese clearance stock that costs very little and gives them big profit margins. Beware, guarantees will be worthless and support from Roy Rogers and the gang...

(Terry Williams) #15

Google "photovoltaique tarn" (you are in the Tarn?) and you'll find any number of companies based in the Tarn only too happy to provide estimates/advice. But as Bernadette says, be ultra careful. There are a lot of cowboys out there.

(Bernadette Kirk) #16

Says everything that the double glazing guys are on the band waggon. If you do buy check the provenance of all items - if anything comes from China run a mile. There are serious questions about these imports (under official inquiry) and any company trying to offload them.

(Suzanne Fitzgerald) #17

thanks Bernadette - useful to know - I went to Ecobuild show and was completely bamboozzled by all the suppliers there. It does seem like everyman and his dog is trying to get in on the solar panels show - and now every window seller seems to be adding them in too.

(Suzanne Fitzgerald) #18

Jane - do you mind me asking which company you used for your Geothermal heating?

(Jane Williamson) #19

Christ, why not install solar panels to heat your swimming pool?
We have used geothermal heating to heat ours and have solar panels for heating the water in the newly renovated part of the house. It is extremely successful.

(Bernadette Kirk) #20

Having worked for a company that advises on energy reductuction for mulitinationals I would be very wary of Photovoltaic at the moment. There are good points for solar energy - however the technology is changing very rapidly and the market is flooded with systems that all ready out of date and do not have replacement parts available. (And people are getting their fingers burnt - just ask Mr. Obama who endorsed a Californian company - they went under within weeks of receiving a flood of orders on his recomendation. Companies all over the world are now trying to put together peicemeal systems from the few parts that are still available.) On the green side these panels have a huge carbon footprint in manufacture, the jury is still out on whether they are carbon efficient over the life span of the panel.

Energy buy back is still available for the extra power you produce (but be aware that if it is a cloudy day the electricity you produce may be intermittant, out put too low and therefore not picked up by the grid) but this is likely to change. In the UK the national grid is effectively paying major companies to turn on machinery in order to burn up an excess of power (cheaper than turning off power stations). This is not a sustainable solution in the long term so buying solar power from home producers will be phased out. As storage for the energy produced by solar panels is eyewateringly expensive this will reduce the cost effectiveness of installation on an individual basis.

There are what appear to be very good deals for the homeowner available (but again rapidly being phased out in the UK), but as with all government subsidised schemes it appears that consumer interests are not the priority. As with all things (especially those connected with EDF), buyer beware. By all means go ahead, but please do your research.