Friday 5 April 2024

Twelve years of rooftop solar power

Our rooftop solar power system was installed 12 years ago today. In total they've generated 40900 kWh since installation. While last year (2022-2023) was a record year for output from these panels, this year (2023-2024) was not. The end of 2023 and beginning of 2024 were marked by particularly grey and dull weather so this  output is not surprising. But the output of 3362 kWh over the whole year is still only slightly below the 12 year average of 3378 kWh per year.

Total output of our solar power installation per year. The blue columns are the contribution of the 12 year old rooftop system. The red shows the additional power generated by the extra panels we've installed on our garage roof.

The garage roof panels added an additional 1416 kWh to the total for the year. These were installed as we wanted to to compensate for the consumption of the heat pump and electric water heater that we installed when we got rid of our gas connection.

This winter was the dullest that we've recorded, resulting in the blue bar for March 2024 being easily the lowest in the graph. Even the substantial contribution of the new panels, shown in red, didn't result in higher total output than we have seen in brighter March months in past years from the rooftop panels alone. But the extra panels still helped us to generate a higher proportion of our consumption this winter than we have done without them.

Our rooftop panels having been operating for 12 years also of course means that the inverter has been operating for 12 years. The inverter actually only lasted for six years and three months before it failed due to poor soldering and the manufacturer refused to fix it. I fixed it myself and the repair that I made has very nearly doubled the life of the inverter thus far. I am still very irritated that ABB, the inverter's manufacturer, preferred to tell us that the whole inverter had reached the end of its life and needed to be thrown away and replaced with a new one when they could have made the same simple repair in order to keep it operating.

Anyway, the system as a whole is still working very well. It's difficult to work out exactly by which date this system paid for itself because the electricity price has changed over time. But the cost of electricity to consumers, including all taxes etc., has always been higher than 19.5 c, so I think we can now reliably state that the original purchase price of €8000 has been repaid by the solar panels and inverter together. Since 2012 the cost of solar panels has dropped precipitously and I expect the extra panels on our garage will cover their cost in under 4 years.

If you've read this far you'll probably also be interested in my blog post from four days ago about how the heat pump, electric water heater and solar panels together have reduced our energy bill to less than zero.

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