Funded Solar – What is it?

A new craze is sweeping the web in the UK for companies providing funded solar panels. As the Feed in Tariff pays out to the owner of the panels, we all know all-too-well the fact that solar panels are not easily accessible to most because of their cost.

To combat this, many companies started offering free solar panels (see this review of A Shade Greener for example). With these schemes, the company installing the system would take the Feed in Tariff payments, whilst the homeowner would get a reduction in their electricity bills, but they wouldn’t receive the payments. The advantage of this is that the scheme is accessible to anyone who is a homeowner, even if they’ve got not savings, although it’s typically difficult to get accepted onto such a scheme by a free solar company in the case that the roof isn’t south-facing.

However, there is an obvious downside to free solar – that the company remains the owner of the panels and they’re effectively leasing the roof. This means that should the homeowner decide to sell their property, the next people to move in would have to keep the solar panels on their property. There are also woeful tales of people not getting much in savings, maybe £100/year or so, which don’t justify the faff!

Fortunately, there is a new scheme just coming out. Funded solar is a scheme where people can get a loan to provide their panels. This loan is given at a rate which is below the estimated earnings from the Feed in Tariff, which means that the homeowner can remain the owner of the panels, thus earning back the difference between the loan rate and the earnings rate, on top of the electricity bill savings.

What then are the downsides? The main one is that if the earnings are poor – for example, the panels underperform, or the weather takes a turn for the worse, then the homeowner can be left out in the cold. What do you think?

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Graduated with an economics degree 2 years ago, since then I've been writing about renewable energy and solar panels in particular, working for a solar quote company that operates nationally in the UK.

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