PV modules are now 10% cheaper than 10 years ago
As homeowners and businesses seek to identify new ways of reducing their carbon footprints,
Kevin Knapp, CEO of Ecolution Group, looks at renewable energy and the advances set to emerge within
the next 20-30 years.
Energy efficiency and the environment
are at the top of everyone’s agenda.
While the benefits have long been
recognisable, investment over the past
five to 10 years has made green solutions more
financially viable. When solar panel modules were
first implemented, their efficiencies were at 8%.
Within the past few years, this efficiency has seen
an exponential increase to 22%, purely because
design has improved.
The increase in demand has led to a reduction
in cost. For example, PV modules are now 10%
cheaper than 10 years ago. In the near future, we
will see further developments, particularly in terms
of module efficiency, installation and performance.
‘Payback’ has been a setback
Something which has clearly inhibited the
reputation and growth of renewable energy and
energy storage is referred to as ‘payback time’.
People have been under the false illusion that
there is more to lose than gain with renewable
energy. For example, when we get a haircut or
buy a kitchen, there is little focus on the return
investment – we just don’t question it. With
renewable energy, we are very critical of what it is
and what it can achieve; even though it is directly
involved with our health, the people we love
and, without exaggerating, the things we need to
survive. The ‘payback’ terminology has probably
been one of the reasons why the industry has been
held back – until now.
As renewable energy is now far more efficient
and advanced than it was a decade ago and
payback time has reduced drastically. Research
suggests energy paybacks are now at one to
four years, with life expectancies of 30 years.
Such a short amount of time over a long period
showcases the efficiency of these systems and how
they provide long-term solutions to reducing the
A further struggle has been attracting the retrofit
market. Whereas new-builds contain panels
to comply with specific Building Regulations,
retrofits are often exempt from this. Considering
people want to know they are making a good
investment, why would they fit renewable sources
on their houses if they don’t know the benefits?
To get people to realise the benefits of renewable
sources, they need to be made aware of the longterm
value and their role in reducing carbon
footprint and improving ecological health.
Essentially, our ecology influences our general
economy and our nation’s health, so why
aren’t the benefits of renewable energy systems
expressed? We need to communicate the values to
the general public, whereby we stress that energy
resources are not alternative options or a drain
on resources. Instead, they are the pathway to a
cleaner, greener future.
Producing our own energy
The next big thing in renewable sources is
energy storage. Energy storage holds significant
value, and this really needs to be recognised.
Energy is stored when it is less valuable and
BUILDING PRODUCTS | SEPTEMBER