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Solar Panel Trial Save Homes Hundreds Of Pounds A Year–At A Cost Of £55K!

May 13, 2020

By Paul Homewood



Energy bills at a row of Swansea Valley bungalows which have been re-fitted with solar panels and a Tesla battery have dropped to just a pound a week.

The six council-owned properties in Craigcefnparc have undergone a wholesale transformation in a pilot project which is expected to be rolled out across Swansea and south west Wales.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting on May 7, Cllr Andrea Lewis said the energy bills were £71 per property in January but just £3 for the first 21 days in April.

By the summer, she said, the bungalows could be "in positive territory" energy-wise and exporting surplus power to the grid.


Sounds as wonderful idea, what could be wrong with that?

Well, except for the upfront cost, anyway, as the article goes on to tell us!

The bungalows at Ffordd Ellen, Craigcefnparc, have new roofs, triple-glazed windows, insulated wall rendering and solar panels. Warm water comes from ground source heat pumps, while air is circulated via ceiling vents, which helps retain warmth.

Funding came from the Welsh Government and the Welsh School of Architecture, which also provided expertise. Around £55,000 has been spent on each property.

If energy bills in winter, before the solar panels were working, were £71 per month, annual bills would probably have been around £600. Solar power would be minimal in winter anyway, so annual savings would be much less than that figure.

So on what planet does it make sense to spend £55000 to save a few hundred a year, on equipment that will probably only last a couple of decades at most?

  1. tom0mason permalink
    May 13, 2020 10:42 am

    Wales, or maybe just the Swansea Valley, must be the Britain’s climatic equivalent of Southern California or Arizona for all this solar power they can generate!

  2. ThinkingScientist permalink
    May 13, 2020 10:43 am

    At £600 per year saved, that’s getting close to a century to make this payback – without factoring in the maintenance & replacement cost.

    What is the market value of these properties? I had a quick look on Zoopla, I doubt the market value exceeds £100K.

    If that is the case, spending 55% of the total value of the property to save even £600 per year is an insane waste of tax payers money and should not go unchallenged.

    • David Virgo permalink
      May 13, 2020 12:59 pm

      The way I read it, this scheme uses taxpayers (English?) money to fund the capital thereby saving the council tenants some relatively small amount on their electricity bills – which were presumably previously subsidised by the local (Welsh) council.
      I also don’t see how “air circulated by ceiling vents” helps retain warmth. And, of course, ground source heating provides warmth but by no means I can see retains it.

      • tonyb permalink
        May 13, 2020 1:31 pm

        “Warm water comes from ground source heat pumps, while air is circulated via ceiling vents, which helps retain warmth”

        a tightly sealed home is just the recipe for trapping and then recirculating CV.

      • bobn permalink
        May 13, 2020 1:50 pm

        Yes its English money still being recycled to wales by the EU. Gravy train starts to fall off the rails on 01 jan 2021. I’ll celebrate the new year with a fine english sparkling wine to mark the end of the theft. (that is unless Boris loses his nerve over the EU like he caved, paniked and lost his nerve over the Wuhan flu!)

  3. mwhite permalink
    May 13, 2020 10:48 am

    Even after thirty years they won’t have paid that back. Wonder when the solar panels will need to be replaced?

    • Adam Gallon permalink
      May 13, 2020 12:00 pm

      Inverters will need replacing first, maybe 10 years for those. Panels in 20-25 years?

  4. Geoff B permalink
    May 13, 2020 10:48 am

    Payback time for investments can always be worked out, sophisticated techniques like NPV (net present value) IRR (internal rate of return) OR the only one I ever used ….years to get back the capital cost in terms of annual cost saving. Rules were payback in a year…. Do it
    payback in 2 years do it if you have done all the one year ones. payback in 3 years forget it not worth doing. This one, even if the energy bill goes to zero saving £600 pound a year, it is going to take 91 years to payback. As the greens keep banging on about CO2 how much of this inert gas was produced making the panels and the tesla battery.

  5. jack broughton permalink
    May 13, 2020 11:01 am

    I’m sure that the residents are delighted, but how much happier they would have been if the Welsh Government had given them £10,000 per house and said carry on with previous bills!
    We’d all be quids-in

  6. May 13, 2020 11:02 am

    During cloudy days and the dead dog days of winter,how is the Tesla battery being charged.Does it have mains backup? Fully charged how long before the battery can no longer supply power to the homes in these circumstances.

  7. LeedsChris permalink
    May 13, 2020 11:08 am

    And, unfortunately, you know this insanity will now figure large in our Government’s ‘recovery plan’ post-Coronavirus. The ‘green blob’ and the elites and others will force the Government to spend only on green industry and infrastructure like thi. Combined with the impact of the virus on our economy we are looking at third world status soon…. Someone pointed out the other day that no country has a divine right to stay wealthy… It quoted the example of Argentina, whose people were amongst the top 4 richest in the world in 1913 (with higher income than Australia, Canada, France etc) and look what happened to them after decades of mismanagement. The UK next?

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      May 13, 2020 2:59 pm

      Sadly, LC, when Boris Johnson was asked at PMQs today by one of his own MPs if he would ensure that the government follow Green investment principles in the recovery efforts that must be put in place after Covid-19. This MP wanted the PM to support an EV country-wide charging infrastructure, for example, and in his answer, the PM heartily agreed! I’m afraid he is not the man I supported for office and I no longer believe he is the man to lead us as long as he is so in thrall to the ‘scientivists’ who are guiding his hand with their own political dreams – which will become our nightmares.

      • LeedsChris permalink
        May 13, 2020 3:15 pm

        Harry… You have depressed me more, but it’s what I expected. Our so-called Leaders are leading us ‘off a cliff’…… China and Russia and other countries have achieved what they wanted – the destruction of the West – and we have done it by suicide.

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        May 13, 2020 8:05 pm

        Harry Passfield, you sound surprised by BJ. Can’t say any of the current mismanaged fiasco has surprised me, disappointed yes, surprised no.

      • May 13, 2020 9:40 pm

        From what we hear, it’s worse in France.

  8. Mad Mike permalink
    May 13, 2020 11:13 am

    So the cost of supplying electricity to individual properties now falls to the taxpayer and council tax payers. True Socialism.

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      May 13, 2020 11:57 am

      It is Wayells….

  9. May 13, 2020 11:15 am

    There are other issues too. The generation of electricity by solar panels drops substantially if they are not kept clean. In addition getting a mortgage on a property with solar panels that are installed on an existing roof is difficult to impossible due to the inability to see if there is any damage or problems with the roof. Which of course is more likely if people are climbing and drilling holes in it.

    Add to this the energy expended in their construction, the damage to the environment through extraction of rare earth minerals and their reducing efficiency over time.

    It is delusional to say that this is a viable and sustainable project that is going to mitigate the effects of the four molecules of a greenhouse gas in an atmosphere where the other 9,996 molecules are non-greenhouse gases.


  10. Mack permalink
    May 13, 2020 11:31 am

    Green maths: 2+2=5. Simples!

  11. Pancho Plail permalink
    May 13, 2020 11:34 am

    I seem to recall that the period for which the statistic was calculated (the first 21 days of April) were pretty warm and sunny. It would be a fool who would project that performance through a typical English summer.

    • Chaswarnertoo permalink
      May 13, 2020 11:58 am

      Welsh. Even wetter…

  12. May 13, 2020 11:37 am

    the real cost comparison of UK renewables

    These straightforward calculations are intended to answer the simple question:

    “roughly how much would it cost to generate the same amount of power as is produced by the present fleet of UK Weather Dependent Renewables, using conventional generation technologies, (Nuclear or Gas-firing) ? and how do those figures compare ?”.

    Accordingly the post quantifies the scale of the fiscal waste and the burdens on utility bills attributable to the use of UK Weather Dependent Renewables as in 2019. It combines the comparative costs of generation technologies, published by the US Energy Information Administration in 2020 with information on the Nameplate rating of installed UK Weather Dependent Renewable installations and their actual productive power output as of 2019.

    According to these calculations, the approximate long-term UK cost commitment to these Renewables is ~250 £billion. This amounts to about twice the annual, cost of the NHS or about 11% of annual UK GDP. As can be seen later, these estimates show that using Weather Dependent Renewables in the UK costs 10 – 12 times as much as using Natural Gas for electricity generation and about 2 – 3 times as much as Nuclear power.

  13. Thomas Carr permalink
    May 13, 2020 12:13 pm

    Some of the best collection of comments and expertise for a while. Saved me the effort of explaining about the rentalisation of capital costs and sinking fund provisions which is particularly hazardous at this time of low interest rates and uncertain life span of the renewable power generators.

  14. Gamecock permalink
    May 13, 2020 12:14 pm

    Love them bungalows. They have that single-family Soviet block house look.

    Who wouldn’t want to live there?

  15. BLACK PEARL permalink
    May 13, 2020 12:15 pm

    Has anyone contacted Wales on Line with Paul’s report on this !
    Would be interested in their reply.
    Everything these days appears FAKE or has it always been so ?

  16. RICHARD WALKER permalink
    May 13, 2020 12:34 pm

    There is an even better example here in Camden. Victorian terrace house eco makeover over 10 years ago at a cost of £330,000. The initiative was of course never repeated. See here

    Richard Walker

  17. Jonathan Scott permalink
    May 13, 2020 12:48 pm

    This shows the level of wilful disingenuosity of what are criminals in public office playing lose and free with tax payers money. It is incumbent upon them to spend wisely. Clearly virtue signalling at other peoples expense is more important. I wonder what the cocktail parties were like? It is also a demonstration of their confidence or ignorance that they do not try to hide the cost of of the project. This should be making people very angry and calling for public investigation of the councillors involved with a clear statement of an intention to prosecute if a criminal case can be found.

  18. NeilC permalink
    May 13, 2020 1:31 pm

    Average sunshine hours over the last 21 years for west of Cardiff is just 4.0 hours per day. Are these people just mad or deliberately trying to ruin this country.

  19. Bloke down the pub permalink
    May 13, 2020 1:43 pm

    Spacex will soon be sending a manned spacecraft to dock with the ISS. Originally, it was to be just a demo flight but circumstances have led to the stay at the station being extended. At the moment, they can’t predict how long the stay will be because they don’t know how long the solar panels will survive in the harsh environment of space. Not a good advert for Elon Musk’s other business venture.

  20. Coeur de Lion permalink
    May 13, 2020 2:43 pm

    Wasn’t there mention of a battery? If this is a Tesla powerwall you are looking at ten grand with the house switching/wiring. In the garage? Oh they don’t have a garage? Are the tenants clever enough to manage this hi-tech? Welsh? Je m’en doubt

  21. Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
    May 13, 2020 3:30 pm

    This row of bungalows – six council-owned properties – appears to have been a propaganda project from the get-go.
    A few questions pop into my mind.
    Who lives there? What’s the cost? Did it go up?
    Who did the work? Are there any linkages/relationships among council members, residents, contractors?
    On the tech side, is it one ground source heat pump for six units, or does each have its own system? The dark newly disturbed ground could be the location of the pipes. [Ground source is a bit more costly to install and maintain. Using other people’s money (OPM) – who cares?]

    If they send me £55,000, I will send them a nice thank you card.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      May 13, 2020 5:19 pm

      One man’s ‘green’ bungalow is another (Councillor’s) sun-blessed property in Portugal.

  22. Phoenix44 permalink
    May 13, 2020 4:44 pm

    Those bungalows are not worth much more than £55,000 in total. My mother has a house she inherited in the Welsh valleys and its worth perhaps £80,000 and is much nicer than those. There’s little work, plenty of housing and not much of a future at the moment Spending £55,000 on each bungalow is beyond madness.

  23. Subseaeng permalink
    May 13, 2020 4:45 pm

    Jeez. Unbelievable. You couldn’t make this up could you. I despair.

  24. May 13, 2020 8:41 pm

    Spend 55,000 Pounds to save a few hundred pounds a year. It would probably take 100 years to earn the investment back and by that time the installations would’ve to be replaced 3 or 4 times over in order to keep running which means that this cost will never be recuperated. And then they are still allowed to make such advertisements. Is there no authority that can hold those that make wrong, erroneous, or fraudulent claims responsible for the lies they spread?

  25. Stuart Brown permalink
    May 13, 2020 9:09 pm

    And here’s another one:

    “Clean heat for eleven council-owned buildings, including a residential tower block, is expected to deliver benefits of £150,000 a year, benefitting the authority and fuel-poor tenants.

    The Viking network is priced at £7 million…”

  26. permalink
    May 13, 2020 9:10 pm

    Well apparently it makes sense on Earth…….

  27. Philip Verslues permalink
    May 14, 2020 2:11 am

    71-4=67 67×12=804 804×20=16,080 55,000-16080=38,920 = Stupid stupid stupid!!!!!!

  28. Dave Cowdell permalink
    May 14, 2020 12:16 pm

    The house that I moved in to 3 years ago is a 200 year old Welsh farmhouse with 3 foot thick stone walls, radiators and twin 12 kW air source heat pumps, sold to the previous owner on the premise of saving the planet, and a RHI contribution.
    Apart from the fact that not only the heat pump manufacturer in China had gone bust, the importer and agent also gone together with the importer. Despite this potential disadvantage a more serious problem arose in that the house was freezing cold in winter.
    Bye bye heatpumps, welcome to a good oil boiler and now warm.and toasty.

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