Call me crazy – call me stupid! I’m getting a new solar array!

Some of you will read this article and ask why I didn’t go vegan because of the impact consuming meat and dairy products has on the environment.  I’m quite a fussy eater and don’t think I could go vegan yet.  I am however trying to cut down my meat consumption by eating vegetarian meals twice weekly. 

I along with many British people watched David Attenborough’s “Climate Change – The Facts” documentary back in April with shocking images of how we are affecting the plant we live on.  The clip that most appalled me was the Orangutan attempting to fight a digger that was being used to destroy it’s home. 

I’ve long known that we have a massive effect on the plant we live on and have tried to reduce my impact (I am by no means a saint!!) by recycling as much as I can, using as little electricity from the grid as possible, buying an electric car when my unleaded petrol car got towards the end of its life (165k miles I did in that from brand new). So when I watched the David Attenborough program and he talked of having to make changes, I thought I’d better do something. 

I decided to look at options for upgrading the heating system we have at home but because we live in a house built in the mid-twentieth century, the floors aren’t well insulated and the rooms have radiators rather than underfloor heating.  Although I wanted in invest in a ground source heat pump, it wasn’t quite clear whether we’d have to run the system for more hours than the oil boiler to keep the house as warm during the winter months.  I probably should have sought a quote but from the spreadsheet I made, it looked as if the carbon footprint might be on par with the oil boiler we already have (however if you have a well-insulated house and/or underfloor heating, I’d highly recommend looking into a ground source heat pump! Maybe in a couple of years’ time I’ll revisit this option!). 

The item I looked into next was adding a second solar array to our house and this is where the “call me crazy – call me stupid” part comes in…   

First of all, I don’t own my house.  I live with my parents who have recently retired so any money I invest in the house is effectively a benefit to them but not necessarily to me.  

Second I’ve filled the existing East-South-East facing roof back in 2011 with 16 solar panels and there’s no way I’m touching that system – I get the highest rate of Feed In Tariff (the equivalent of 56p per kWh generated as I don’t have an export meter), so it’s not in my financial interest to change that array.  The only other large bit of roof space left is therefore the back of the house in the opposite direction – West-North-West (WNW)!  

Third, any new array would probably not receive a Feed In Tariff – I don’t want to change my existing agreement or affect it in any way, so it’s safer (until I can find out the rules around second feed in tariff on the same property) to go on the assumption I will never receive a Feed In Tariff for any units generated on the new array… 

Who in their right mind would put an array on a WNW facing roof that they don’t own and not get paid for the units generated…? Me 😀 

I see it as doing a little bit more for the planet by giving some more (see second paragraph below) free clean power away. 

The new solar array is in the process of having its plans reviewed by the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) and I’ll hopefully know by end of October if I can proceed with the project.  If successful and the DNO doesn’t ask for any modifications, the new array will be 5.4kW peak consisting of 18, 300W panels. 

Although the new array is 1.4kWp greater than my existing solar array, because of the direction it’s facing it will probably generate the same amount of units per year as the existing array.  In addition, not all the units generated will go back to the grid as a freebie – because we have a Tesla Powerwall, unless the Powerwall is full or the arrays are collectively generating more electricity than the input on the Powerwall, spare power will be used to charge the Powerwall first. 

Despite the lack of financial reward, I’m still super excited about this new project and will no doubt put up another post once it’s installed.