Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Your Place in the Sun; Solar Energy: Solar Power Is Clean and Free, Once You've Installed the Equipment. Fay Sweet Talks Us through the Details

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Your Place in the Sun; Solar Energy: Solar Power Is Clean and Free, Once You've Installed the Equipment. Fay Sweet Talks Us through the Details

Article excerpt

Byline: FAY SWEET

OIL prices continue to rise, experts predict there are just 45 years of fossil fuels left in the world, and now the Government is considering a revival of the nuclear power industry. No wonder energy is once again on the agenda. All this, linked with concerns about global warming and pollution, is causing an increasing number of people to opt for free and limitless solar power.

"The main appeal is that it is clean and safe and provides an entirely independent source of energy," says Clare Hawtin of energy firm Solar Century.

The company specialises in solar-powered electricity generating systems for the home: solar roof shingles, slates and panels. Most householders in older properties can fit solar tiles or panels quite easily to their roofs, too.

Solar Century and fellow solar experts BP Solar (a division of BP), agree that an average three-bedroom house needs a 3kW system to meet its entire electricity demands. This scale of installation is likely to cost in the region of [pound]15,000 to [pound]17,000 but will save around [pound]400 on energy each year.

"It is expensive," stresses Ray Noble of BP Solar. "The payback period is a long one, but people investing in solar power do so because they're concerned about the environment."

There are signs that solar power is being taken more seriously beyond the environmentally conscious: solar systems are increasingly being installed on factory and supermarket roofs and even, ironically, at petrol stations. A recent Department of Trade and Industry report concluded the UK could generate enough electricity from existing roofs to far exceed the country's electricity needs.

The DTI is now working on a scheme to give grants for half the cost of solar roof installations in the future.

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