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Case Study 4: Richard, Weardale, Country Durham

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Richard commissioned an array of PV panels to his property in Weardale, Country Durham in March 2017. 

“My purpose in investing in these was twofold; to offset some of my carbon footprint and to save some money on my annual electricity bill. I was aware that the Government incentives for installing panels have been eroded over the years, but the principal driver was to cover the cost of running the Everhot cooker as I near retirement.

“My property lies in a remote part of NE England and sits at an elevation of around 1,000 feet - winters are harsh and the area is often shrouded in mist, or covered in snow! It is not an ideal area for PV generation and further south in the country there will be an improvement on the figures I produced but I was lucky to have an unobstructed, south facing roof that could accommodate 18 panels (4.59 KW).  

“My recommendation in choosing an installation company would be to speak to an expert, rather than someone who fits panels as part of their other business activities.
 I used the very capable NZ Eco who are based in Weardale; they assured me that despite regularly experiencing winds in excess of 60mph the panels would be well anchored, providing the roof stayed on, so would the panels!” 


Richard installed his solar panels when the Government Feed in Tarif was still in existence. At the time, for every kWh generated, there was a payment of 4.5p/kWh and for power consequently fed back to the grid an additional amount of 4.91p/kWh was payable. At the time, Richard said:

“In contrast, my electricity provider charged 13.81p/kWh and hence it is immediately
apparent that it is advantageous to use the power generated, rather than export it.  

“With this in mind, I installed a device (iBoost) that automatically diverts power to the immersion heater to top up the hot water tank and only when this has reached its set temperature, does power start to be exported. 

“During the summer months, my oil boiler was not required as hot water was being provided from the PV panels – a significant saving in oil over the year. The Everhot cooker will call for power whenever it needs it in order to maintain the temperatures that have been set for it; it does not have a constant requirement for power but is ideally suited to be used in conjunction with any sort of sustainable energy system – it was originally developed with small scale hydroelectric systems in mind.”
 

Richard’s first anniversary of the installation yielded the following: 

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“The obvious drawbacks are that in all PV installations, when the sun goes in, the power drops away and additionally the winter months yield nothing like the summer period – this will always be the case, but ongoing research into ‘house batteries’ which will allow unused power to be stored and called upon when needed is improving all the time. 

“The initial cost of the installation was around £7000 and the return in the first year was around 9% - it is by no means a ‘get rich quick’ scheme, but with the initial premise of covering the cost of running the cooker, I consider it very successful.”