Prices, returns, and power generation for 2kWp solar PV systems

by Solar Selections on December 7, 2012

2kWp solar system

2kWp (kilowatt-peak) solar PV systems are now a popular option for investment across the United Kingdom.  Falling solar PV system installation prices are a global trend, and the UK is no exception to it. At the time of writing, 2kWp solar system of decent quality can be installed for £2,800 in the UK. Below is an explanation of the price ranges and the potential savings (and earnings) that a 2kWp solar system could afford a typical UK household or small business.

The cost of a typical 2kWp solar system in the UK

Solar panel and inverter production have increased dramatically in the past few years, which means that the once prohibitively high cost of solar system components has fallen significantly. On top of this, as incentives such as the UK’s feed-in tariff which were set up to drive the country’s solar industry are scaled back (due to their own success), competition between installers has increased and prices have been forced downwards even further. Rising electricity prices across the country have also meant that more and more households are looking at solar as a way to save money.

The average price of a fully installed solar PV system comes in at around £1.40 per watt. This means that at the time of writing, a typical 2kWp solar system of decent quality can be installed for under £2,800–a drop of over 50% from just 12 months prior. Prices, of course, can be higher or lower depending on the brand of components used, among a number of other factors. Top-shelf systems will demand a premium, while entry-level systems have potential to be significantly less expensive. Some prices, however, are just too much for what is delivered, and it is important that those shopping around for a system are well-informed before making a decision.

Power output from a 2kWp solar system

‘kWp’ explained

kWp stands for ‘kilowatts-peak’. Solar photovoltaic (PV) panel system capacity is rated in kilowatts (kW), and ‘peak’ indicates that this is the most that the system will produce at any given moment in ideal conditions, although the system may sometimes produce less power when conditions are not ideal (e.g. in inclement weather).

A 1kWp system in the UK will typically generate around 2.35 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity in a day, averaged across the year. (Electricity bills typically display your charges in terms of the number of ‘units’ or ‘kWh’ that you have used over the billing period.) A 2kWp solar PV system installed in a good location will therefore generate power as follows:

-2.35 x 2kWp = 4.7kWh per day (more in the summer, less in the winter)

OR

- 4.7kWh x 365 days = 1,715kWh per year (over 850kWh per 1kWp of capacity)

It’s important to remember that these estimates are at the low end of the spectrum–your system may actually produce more power than this. For example, one Solar Selections customer in the north of England has a 4kWp solar system that has generated more than 4,120kWh in one year (over 1000kWh per 1kWp of capacity).

Although the average daily power output across the year for a typical 2kWp system is approximately 4.7kWh, the real-life power output of a 2kWp solar system on any given day of the year is influenced by a number of things, including:

-Geographical location (read more about sunshine levels across the UK)

-Season (more sun in summer, less in winter)

-Solar panel array tilt angle and orientation

-The effects of partial or total shading of the solar panel array (if any)

-Solar cell operating temperature (overheating can have a detrimental impact on panel output–although this is not usually a problem in the UK)

-Matching of solar panel array and solar inverter specifications

-Solar panel and inverter component quality

Estimated returns and earnings from a 2kWp solar system

Return on investment for any solar PV system depends primarily on the initial cost of the system, the amount of power actually produced, and on the feed-in tariff rates that are applied for when the system is installed and commissioned. The UK’s feed-in tariff ensures that PV system owners are paid a premium rate for each kWh of power that their system produces, plus an additional amount for each kWh exported to the electricity grid. Homes and businesses that go solar may also offset their electricity bills by using all or a portion of the power that their panels generate. Doing so greatly decreases the need to purchase power from the grid. (Read more: Solar panel payback times and return on investment.)

Download a 2kWp solar power system ROI Calculator*

How to use the calculator:

1. Download the Solar Selections 2kWp solar system ROI calculator (Excel spreadsheet file)

2. Compare solar system prices by getting a Solar Quote Comparison by filling out the form to the right of this page

3. Check the current feed-in tariff rates

4. Alter the variables in the light blue boxes in the file(system size, system price, feed-in tariff, etc) to match your situation and estimate your system’s Return on Investment (ROI).

(You may also open the file in Google Docs if you have a Google account.)

*Calculator outputs are indicative only–please keep in mind that electricity rates and Feed-in Tariff rates may change over time.

© 2012 Solar Selections Ltd

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