Solar energy isn’t just for summer

Since 2010 more than 450,000 UK homes have had solar photovoltaic panels fitted. And thanks to the recent summer heatwave, which saw us revel in weeks of glorious sunshine and record temperatures, there’s been something of a surge in solar panel installations and record solar electricity generation.
Yes I think we can all agree that we’ve had a pretty good summer this year. July and August provided plenty of glorious sunshine for us to bask in, the latter of which brought the hottest temperatures for ten years, with Gravesend, Kent hitting a high of 33.2C. It was the hottest August day since 2003, and came on the back of a July that was the driest and warmest since 2006, bringing with it record levels of solar electricity generation.
According to the Solar Trade Association, on July 23 around 16,000 MWh of solar power was generated in the UK, compared to 9,900 MWh of wind energy. So while sunlovers and barbecue enthusiasts took every advantage of the heatwave, households with solar panels were also rejoicing at the cloudless blue skies and perfect summer weather.
But that was then, this is now. It’s September; the start of cooler, cloudier autumnal weather. Sunlight may be fading and the warm sunny summer days will soon be nothing more than a distant memory. But don’t be fooled into thinking solar panels have to have direct bright sunlight to generate power.
It seems to be one of the most common misconceptions we hear about solar energy. In fact modern solar panels are capable of generating energy in all daylight weather conditions, even on a typically British cloudy grey day. Sure, generation levels will be lower in these weather conditions, with light cover reducing output by as much as 50% – even as low as 5-10% on very overcast days. But that’s still more than enough to meet the average consumer’s requirements.
The fact is solar energy isn’t just for summer; it will work hard for you all year round, lowering your energy bills, cutting your carbon footprint and even generating a nice little extra income, thanks to payments from the Government’s Feed-in Tariff scheme. Our popular solar PV calculator is a great tool to estimate potential ROI and payback.
With so many benefits, is it any wonder solar photovoltaic panels continue to dominate survey after survey as the most popular form of renewable energy amongst Brits? In fact just last week a BBC poll revealed that a whopping 84% of Brits are in favour of more solar panels in their area*.
If you’re still not convinced, take a look at Germany. The country has around 1.3 million solar panel installations and is on course to achieve grid parity – that’s when solar electricity is generated at wholesale prices – by 2017. Quite an achievement. After all, Germany isn’t exactly known for its warm, sunny climate, is it?
To take advantage of the daylight and generate renewable energy all year round, start by getting free quotes from MCS solar installers.

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*1,035 adults were interviewed for Radio 5 Live to understand peoples’ attitudes about energy.