Solar thermal panels use the energy from the sun to heat water, which is pumped into a plumbing system where it can be used immediately as hot water or stored for later use. There are two types of solar thermal systems; evacuated tubes or flat panel collectors.
Solar thermal systems can supply all your summer hot water and a significant amount of your winter hot water too. It’s one of the cheapest and most established renewable energy technologies. Solar thermal can be designed to connect with most existing heat systems as long as you have a roof facing within 900 of south, and the space for a larger cylinder to store hot water (the heat store).
A typical system is about 2-4m2 and costs between £4,000 and £5,000, less if you have a spare coil in your existing cylinder. The Renewable Heat Premium Payment Scheme (RHPP) offers a grant of £600 towards the initial installation cost, but this finishes in April 2014. At this point the domestic element to the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is introduced, paying the householder for producing renewable heat. For solar thermal this will be paid at 19.3p per kWh generated by the system - however, the amount will be pre-determined by the modelled output of the system you have installed. The total amount paid is likely to be between £1500 and £2000, and this will be divided into 28 quarterly payments across 7 years.
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