Solar Energy

I am sure that we have all seen the increasing number of solar installations on our roofs in Bristol and Bath.

We recently carried out an inspection of a new-build house on the Mortimer Gardens development close to UWE. These properties were constructed to Code 3 Sustainability standards which exceeds Current Building regulations in terms of good levels of insulation, heat recovery to air extraction systems as well as solar hot water. Properties built to Code 3 or the more demanding Code 4 will be significantly cheaper to heat than the majority of our housing stock. Arguably this will mean increased saleability and stronger residual values. Theoretically a saving of £1000 pa in energy bills capitalised at 5% would add £20,000 to the value of a property or £40,000 at 2.5%.

The site manager of this particular development was very enthusiastic about renewable energy but admitted that the cost savings for a solar hot water system would only amount to around £100 per annum per property and the installations need servicing annually at a cost of around £90. This confirms our own calculations that although a good solar water heating system will provide 50% of water heating energy annually few households will actually spend more than £200 or £300 on water heating. The majority of our energy bills being related to space heating.

The viability of such schemes will improve as energy prices rise and the costs of solar systems falls; many people will also take account of the external benefits to others and to future generations in helping mitigate climate change.

A more interesting proposition may therefore be solar PV. The popularity of such installations is the result of generous cross-subsidisation which has recently been cut signifcantly.

The two main schemes involve either outright purchase or schemes where-by companies effectively lease your roof space. In the case of the latter the RICS has recently published guidance for Surveyors which warns of potential pitfalls and unforeseen costs. Clearly there are legal implications of having someones panels on your roof; what happens if you sell the property or if the roof needs repair, are there any structural considerations for older and weaker roofs and what happens if the solar panels are damaged or cause damage, for example if they become detached and cause damage to property or persons.

The Energy Saving Trust is an excellent source of information. http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk

Keywords for this page: Solar Energy, PV, solar water, Chartered Surveyors, RICS, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Chartered Surveyor, house surveys, home surveys, property surveys, HomeBuyer Reports, Condition Reports, Building Surveys, Bath, Bristol, Wiltshire, Somerset.