Green Loan for Solar PV Panels
Would you consider paying for 6-7 years of electricity upfront to get 15 – 20 years of electricity a good investment? If the answer is yes, then you should consider investing in solar PV panels. The great news is that you can finance your solar PV panels with our great value Credit Union Green Loan.
Are solar panels worth the expense?
Yes, not only are they better for the environment, but they also provide energy stability and can help save you hundreds, if not thousands on your electricity bill every year!
Solar PV panels are very reliable with a median failure rate of 5 panels out of 10,000 annually – or 0.05%! With a 20-30 year lifespan, solar PV panels are an excellent investment for your home as the annual degradation rate is around 0.5%, meaning a 20-year-old panel can produce about 90% of its original capability.
Is Ireland suitable for solar generation?
We live in a country that can be drab, grey, and rainy but you may be surprised to hear this… solar panels work very well in Ireland. The fact is, solar panels can work almost anywhere, even somewhere as rainy as Ireland.
Solar PV panels work off the light of the sun, rather than the heat, so on a clear December day, you can still generate a lot of electricity! Naturally, the best months are during late spring, summer, and early Autumn, but if the sun is out, you can generate electricity.
It’s also worth noting that you can build up credit with your electricity provider by exporting the excess you generate during the good months, and this can be used during the traditionally bad months for solar generation – November, December, January, and February.
How much can you actually save?
Some companies state that you can save up to 70% of your annual electricity bill. However, the SEAI state that a home solar PV system sized at 20 sq. m (~3kWp) would generate around 2,600kWh of electricity a year. That is over 40% of the average annual electricity demand of an Irish home. You can also export what you don’t use back to the grid and you will be paid up to €0.21 per kWh (Electric Ireland Feed In Tariff rate Feb 2023). This means, if you export 1,000 kWh, you will generate €210 of credit.
However, we have conducted our own real-world study to show what can be saved…
- Property: 2350sqft A3 rated home in the midlands
- Solar system: 7.4kWp of solar panels (south facing), and a 10kWh storage battery
- Cost of the system: €12,400 after grants.
Total solar generation from July 1st to December 31st: 3,358kWh.
The total generated power used to power the home: 1,794kWh. This saved €627.90 on the electricity bill (based on an average cost of combined day and night rates @ €0.35 per kWh – See the latest electricity rates here)
The total exported to the grid: 1,564kWh. This generated a further €328.44 (based on the Electric Ireland Feed In Tariff of €0.21 per kWh).
The total revenue (money saved & generated) over the 6-month period was €956.34.
For comparison, the average monthly usage in 2021 was 1324kWh per month. Therefore, the estimated usage for the same 6-month period is 7,944 kWh. On a like-for-like comparison, this means the solar system generated around 50% of the total electricity used in 2022.
They’re nice figures, but what do they mean?
If you analyse your usage, you can find a point where you can offset a sizable portion of a Credit Union Green Loan against the electricity savings from solar power. This can ensure you’re not paying much more than you normally pay, as you are saving on the electricity you generate and use, and you can build up credit with the export of electricity – this can be used during the months when solar PV is not as effective (late October to late March). The great news is that once you have paid off the loan, you then start saving a lot of money!
If you are seriously considering investing in solar PV panels, then it’s worth taking the time to analyse your usage patterns to ensure you get the best system for your needs. Start by charting your electricity usage for the last year – if like most, you are billed bi-monthly, then you should end up with 6 bills. If you have a day/ night meter, then split the usage into day units and night units per bill – naturally, solar PV won’t work at night, so if you have a larger night load, then a battery may be worth considering.
If you are on a standard 24-hour plan, then estimate how much electricity is used in the evening versus during the day. For example, if you work during the day and come home later in the evening, or at night, you probably use more night units and your usage might be 60% in the evening/nights and 40% during the day.
Once you have charted your annual usage, you can start estimating how much could be covered by solar PV panels. It’s fair to assume that from April to September, a solar PV system should generally be running close to full capacity (or at full capacity) on bright days. Using your estimated monthly usage, you can work out the cost of electricity that could be covered by a solar PV system. For example, if the average daily usage for a billing cycle was 30kw per day with 20kw being used during the day, with each day unit costing €0.40, then a solar PV system could save you up to €8 per day, or €240 a month, and that’s excluding the excess which is fed back to the grid.
At present, you can only generate a maximum of 6kWh for a standard domestic setup (connected to the grid). This doesn’t mean that you must restrict your solar panels to 6kWp, and many people opt for larger systems as they will generate more electricity when the conditions are not optimum – if your panels are only running at 50% efficiency, then having more panels will increase your generation. The flip side is that if the conditions are optimum and your panels are running at close to 100%, you won’t be able to generate over 6kWh at any given moment.
The key to maximising a solar PV setup is to make changes and use the electricity when it’s generated. This might mean that you have to change your electricity usage habits and instead of running the washing machine or dryer during off-peak times, you now run it when the sun is the brightest! If you have a hot water tank, you could invest in an Eddi, which is a solar power diverter that helps you to make the most of your self-generated power. Rather than exporting your excess electricity back to the grid, an Eddi heats your hot water with the excess power that is not used by the home. Another option is to invest in an electric car and use the excess energy to power your car (if you’re considering this, we have a great new car loan with a rate of just 5.5%).
Battery or no battery?
Before electricity suppliers started paying the feed-in tariff, a battery was a great investment as you could store the energy generated during the day, and use it at night.
However, now that suppliers are paying for the excess power, a battery is not as important. There are some benefits to a battery as you pay more for the night rate than what your provider will pay you for your excess. It is also useful during the darker months as you can charge your battery at a lower night rate and use it during the day. Batteries are expensive, so always check your numbers to ensure the cost justifies the spend.
Now you have the low down on solar PV panels, and if you’re considering investing in them, please contact us about our great value Credit Union Green Loan!
The information provided used an analysis of a 2022 solar PV installation. Anyone considering installing solar panels should do their own research, as all homes are different, and energy usage patterns and energy costs can vary greatly. While every care has been made in the production of this blog post, Croí Laighean Credit Union, or any of its staff, cannot be held responsible for any omissions, or errors.