Solar energy companies have struggled to cope with the rush in households and businesses looking to install solar panels, as the energy bills reach reaching record levels. The soaring wholesale cost of gas has plunged Europe into a major energy crisis, as Britons are now paying £2,500 a year for gas and electricity since October 1st. A major reason for these high gas prices is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as Vladimir Putin has gradually squeezed supplies in response to Western sanctions. To end their reliance on these volatile gas prices, many consumers are turning towards solar energy, as a way to generate electricity themselves. For solar panel companies, this has led to a surge in inquiries, that have left them struggling to keep up.
Brian Middleton, the head of Renew Green Energy, said that his business has been “hectic” and “manic” over the past few months, with inquiries, keep flooding in.
He told the BBC: “We have never seen anything like this before, just due to the whole energy crisis. Consumers and businesses costs are going up through the roof.
“We used to be able to order and deliver a project within a week, now it is about three months for delivery of materials. There’s a bit of a panic and a rush to do something about their energy costs before they can’t do anything with it really.
“We have gone from five to 10 inquiries a week to it tripling. We are overwhelmed and we had to bring in extra staff just to cope with that.”
According to the trade association Solar Energy UK, around 3,000 solar installations are being carried out every week – up from 1,000 a week in July 2020.
Some providers have reported a tenfold surge in enquiries this month as experts warned bills could rocket to £6,000 next year. Chris Hewett, chief executive of Solar Energy UK, said: “More solar panels are being put on British roofs than ever before.”
The amount of electricity solar panels generate depends on the type and size of the system and house but a typical home could cut electricity bills by more than £300 a year.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors suggests a standard solar panel system costs between £9,000 to £11,700, while Solar Energy UK lists the cost of a “typical” 3.1kilowattpeak system for a three-bed house as £3,925.
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Another solar company, RB Grant said that it was struggling to keep up with demand, as inquiries more than tripled compared to just a year ago.
Director Ronnie Grant says: “We are hearing from people as far apart as Orkney and England who are desperate to have panels fitted. We are doing what we can but there are supply chain issues with metals and electrical components used in the panels so people are having to wait longer for installation.”
He told the BBC that some companies have even been forced to turn away customers due to such high demand.
Helen Melone, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said that with energy bills at record levels, it makes even more economic sense to install solar panels right now.
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She said: “The payback period for a domestic rooftop system is around 12 months, compared to many times that when electricity prices were lower”.
Gabriel Wondrausch, CEO of SunGift Solar, made the decision to install Solar electricity panels, also known as photovoltaics (PV), several years ago as he was passionate about renewable energy.
For his family-of-four home in Exeter Devon, Mr Wondrausch installed an 8.5kWp system, with a charger for his electric vehicle and a 15kWh battery and hot water diverter.
He told Express.co.uk he pays “very little” for his household bills. In the summer months, he only pays approximately £15 per month for his electricity with the cost mainly coming from the standing charge.