Thousands of people like you are going solar. But are solar panels worth it in Ireland? Solar panels can give you big savings on your electricity bills. And you can even earn money by selling surplus solar electricity to the grid. However, there’s also a significant upfront cost. This article will help you to weight the costs against the savings. We’ll also outline some surprising non-financial benefits of solar. So read on and watch the video to learn all you need to know!
The Two Types of Solar Panel
Did you know there are two different types of solar panels on the market? The first type is solar thermal. Thermal means heat, and that’s exactly what solar thermal panels provide: hot water. Solar thermal panels are only worth considering if you use a lot of hot water and don’t have enough roof space for solar PV panels. So let’s focus on solar PV from here on:
Solar PV panels produce electricity directly from daylight. This is a great advantage because electricity is such a versatile form of energy. You can use electricity from solar PV panels to give you hot water and power everything else in your home too. When you have surplus power, you can sell it to your electricity supplier.
Do Solar Panels Give a Decent Output in Ireland?
Solar panels can produce power from either daylight or sunlight. But do we get enough light to make solar panels worth it in Ireland? The answer is that Ireland’s climate is much more favourable to PV solar than many people realise. Specifically, a medium-sized solar panel system generates around 4,000 units of electricity per year in Irish conditions. That’s enough to cover around 70% of the electricity use for an average Irish household, plus some excess to export to the grid on bright days. So yes, a modern solar panel system can give a very decent output in Ireland.
How Much Will You Save With Solar Panels?
The more electricity you use, the more you can save. Typically, you can reduce your electricity bill by around 40-50% with solar panels and a power diverter (for hot water). Add a battery to boost your savings to 70% or more. These numbers are year-round estimates and will be higher in the summer and lower in the winter. This image shows what that could mean in euro terms:
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Ireland?
As a rough guide, the all-in price for home solar panels is from €5,000 – €15,500. This includes installation and all other charges. When you add in the SEAI grant the cost comes down to €3,200 – €13,100.
The lower end of the price range would give you approximately 2kW of standard panels. Meanwhile, the top end of the price range could get you 8kW of premium panels, a power diverter, and a large battery. Blackout protection is an optional extra that generally costs around €1,500.
Solar Panels as a Financial Decision
Once you know the costs and the savings, you’ll be able to determine if buying solar panels will be a good financial decision. There are a couple of ways to weigh up solar panel finance. Firstly, you can compare the return on your solar panels to other investment options like bank deposits or stocks and shares:
What are Solar Panels Worth as an Investment?
The year one return on investment for solar panels is generally somewhere in the range of 8-15%. After that, returns are likely to improve as inflation leads to higher electricity prices over time. For comparison, savings accounts only pay around 2%, while you can make around 9% on the stock market. Solar panels compare even better as an investment when you take taxes into account.
Solar panels provide a high and stable return on investment. Image Licence: CC-BY. Credit: energyd.ie
Solar Panels Vs Electricity Bills
Another method is to subtract the costs from the savings over the lifetime of the solar panels. For example:
Solar panels cost = €7,000 Solar panels electricity value per year = €875 Electricity bills reduction = €875 X 35 = €30,625 Net Savings = €23,635
This result means you’ll be €23,635 better off overall by going solar. Taking increasing electricity prices into account, real-world savings are likely to be even higher.
Get Paid for Your Surplus Electricity
The “Smart Export Guarantee” is live, and you can now get paid for selling solar electricity to the Irish grid.
Payment amounts depend on your electricity supplier. So far only a few suppliers have announced their rates. See the table below:
|Rank||Supplier||Payment (per kWh)||Notes|
|1 (joint)||Flogas||€0.24||Increase from €0.20 to €0.24 reported by RTÉ on 20220-09-23|
|1 (joint)||SSE Airtricity||€0.24||“payable twice yearly”. Customers still waiting for first payment|
|3||Pinergy||€0.21||Increase from €0.135 to €0.21 reported by the Irish Times on 2022-09-16|
|6||Electric Ireland||€0.14||Based on emails sent to customers|
Flogas is leading right now with a very attractive offer of €0.24 per kWh. At that rate, Irish homeowners with lots of solar panels and low electricity consumption could potentially earn more from solar than they pay for electricity bills. Or at least reduce their net electricity bill to a minimal amount.
Three More Reason Why Solar Panels Can be Worth it in Ireland
You now have the information to decide if solar panels are worth it financially. However, there are three other non-financial factors to consider before you make your mind up about solar panels in Ireland:
Solar Panels for Blackout Protection
Solar panels alone can’t power your house during a blackout, but by adding a smart battery you can keep the lights on even when the power goes out. Blackout protection generally won’t be enough to cover very heavy loads like electric showers. However, it can keep your fridge cool and let you use small appliances like lights, microwaves, and televisions. If you live in a part of Ireland that’s prone to power outages then it could be worth getting solar panels with blackout protection especially in mind.
Solar Panels and Energy Monitoring
Most solar panels systems today have an integrated sensor for monitoring your household power use. This lets you view your real-time and historical electricity usage from an app on your phone. With real-time energy monitoring, you’ll quickly learn which devices in your house are “energy hogs”. You could be surprised how easy it is to make even more electricity savings using this information.
The Social Benefits of Solar Panels
Ireland is overly-dependent on imported natural gas for electricity. This is triply problematic as it causes economic drain, energy insecurity, and harmful emissions. Luckily, solar panels can help fix these problems. With solar panels, you can produce clean indigenous electricity while supporting Irish jobs. CO2 savings from a single solar panel system are around 1 metric tonne per year:
Do You Need Planning Permission for Solar Panels in Ireland?
In general, you don’t need planning permission for solar panels in Ireland. However, you must follow some rules, such as keeping the panels at least 50 cm from the edge of your roof. There are additional restrictions on solar panels in architectural heritage areas.