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Q&A: solar panels

Published Friday, August 17, 2018

This Commons briefing paper attempts to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about solar panels.

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Solar panel electricity systems, also known as photovoltaics (PV), capture the sun's energy using photovoltaic cells. These cells don't need direct sunlight to work – they can still generate some electricity on a cloudy day. The cells convert the sunlight into electricity, which can be used to run household appliances. Any excess electricity generated by the panels can be exported to the grid.

According to data for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, as of March 2018 overall UK solar PV capacity was 12,756 MW across 945,331 installations.[1]

Previously the Government supported domestic solar panels through the Green Deal loan scheme, launched in 2013, and Feed-in Tariffs which provide payments for generating renewable energy, launched in 2010. The Green Deal ended in 2015 but there is still support available for installing renewable technologies such as solar panels through Feed-in Tariffs. The Government have said the Feed-in Tariff scheme will end in April 2019.

Solar panels boost the UK’s renewable capacity and can reduce household consumption, and possibly bills, for homeowners with panels. However, there are some common questions and concerns that are raised about solar panel installations that this briefing paper addresses.


[1]     Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Solar photovoltaics deployment, 31 August 2017

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8090

Authors: Suzanna Hinson; Lorraine Conway

Topics: Consumers, Energy

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