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Q&A: solar panels

Published Thursday, March 21, 2019

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 January 2019 overall UK solar PV capacity was 13,123 MW across 979,983 installations.[1]

Previously the Government supported domestic solar panels through the Green Deal loan scheme, launched in 2013, and Feed-in Tariffs which provided payments for generating renewable energy, launched in 2010. The Government stopped publicly funding the Green Deal in 2015, and the Feed-in tariff scheme closes at the end of March 2019. The Government have consulted on an alternative, known as the Smart Export Guarantee.

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, February 2019

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8090

Authors: Suzanna Hinson; Lorraine Conway

Topics: Consumers, Energy

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