Since Japan’s Sharp Corporation created the first commercially viable photovoltaic solar panel for domestic and commercial use back in 1963, PV solar panel prices have generally decreased as performance, efficiency and reliability have increased.
Despite a temporary price escalation in the first part of the twenty-first century arising from a shortage of polycrystalline silicon, significant investment in research and development and improved manufacturing processes by the major PV solar technology companies means that consumers continue to benefit from competitively-priced PV solar panels.
PV Solar Panel Prices and Government Incentives
In recent years increasing numbers of electricity consumers have questioned whether or not PV solar panels are a wise investment. As domestic energy prices continue to rise (the energy regulator OFGEM has predicted 20% price increases by 2020), the potential to generate your own electricity free-of-charge through the installation of a PV solar system is becoming an increasingly attractive option for many people.
The introduction of the UK Government’s ‘Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) scheme for adopters of domestic PV solar power generation has significantly boosted interest in solar electricity generation and has accordingly encouraged manufactures and suppliers to make PV solar panel prices as competitive and affordable as possible.
FITs provide three financial benefits to homeowners who generate their own electricity via a PV solar system: firstly, the homeowner’s electricity bill is significantly reduced because they are generating and using a percentage of their own electricity. Secondly, the homeowner receives payment from the Government for every unit of electricity it produces, even if the household uses that electricity and thirdly, the homeowner has the option to effectively ‘sell’ unused units of self-generated electricity back to the National Grid.
Example PV Solar Panel Prices
PV solar panel prices are dictated by a number of criteria, the most common being:
- their power rating – the higher the PV solar panel’s rated output in Watts, the more expensive it is liable to be. A higher output means that fewer PV solar panels will be required to generate the desired amount of electricity for your home or business.
- their efficiency. The greater a PV solar panel’s efficiency at converting light into electricity the more expensive it will be. Greater conversion efficiency means that the solar panel will be effective in a wider range of light conditions. The efficiency of a domestic PV solar panel currently ranges between 11% and 21%.
- the manufacturer. The multinational electronics corporations that have invested in the most cost-effective methods of obtaining the raw materials and mass producing PV solar panels are generally able to offer the most affordable PV solar panels.
- the technology used to create the PV solar cells within the panel. Polycrystalline PV solar cells are cheaper than their monocrystalline equivalents, which in turn are cheaper than high-efficiency ‘hybrid’ PV solar cells.
As a guide, here are indicative prices for a standard, a mid-range and a premium PV solar panel. A typical domestic or small business PV solar system installation will require between nine and twelve PV solar panels.
Standard: Mitsubishi PV-TD180MF5
Costing between £300 and £350 per panel the Mitsubishi PV-TD180MF5 has been around since 2003 and is a basic polycrystalline PV solar panel with an industry-standard 13% efficiency and a rated output of 180 Watts.
Mid-range: Romag PV210W
British company Romag produce the polycrystalline PV210W which has a rated output of 210 Watts and an above-average efficiency of 16%. You could expect to pay between £450 and £550 per panel for the Romag PV210W.
Premium: Sanyo HIT 250E01.
With a retail price of between £750 and £900 per panel, the 250E01 features Sanyo’s patented HIT technology; hybrid PV solar cells which produce an optimum efficiency of 18%. As the name implies, each Sanyo HIT 250E01 PV solar panel has a rated output of 250 Watts.
PV Solar Panel Installation Prices
In order to benefit from the Government’s FITs scheme, PV solar panel systems must be installed by Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) approved installers. There may be a number of MCS installers in your area and to ensure that you receive the best PV solar panel prices it is worth obtaining several quotes.
The overall cost of your PV solar system installation will vary in accordance with your energy requirements and the amount of unshaded roof space you have to accommodate PV solar panels.
An average domestic PV solar system installation will generate between 2 and 3kW of electricity: between 40% and 50% of the average family’s electricity usage.
A 2kW PV solar system comprising standard PV solar panels will cost £12-13,000 whilst a 3kW PV solar system utilising premium PV solar panels can be obtained for around £16-18,000.