Ireland's only dedicated building services engineering journal
Ireland's only dedicated building services engineering journal

‘2016 to be Breakthrough Year for Solar PV in Ireland’

Damien Philips, Manager, Rexel Energy Solutions
Damien Philips, Manager, Rexel Energy Solutions

Energy policy                                                                                                                            The government of Ireland has made some very positive announcements in its Energy Policy 2015-2030 White Paper back in December but, at the time of writing, we are very short on details. This form of change has already become widely popular in many countries where the solar installation is one of the primary methods using which nations are conserving the excessive use of non-renewable energy. What we do know about our governement is that solar PV is now part of the “energy mix” and the government is looking at mechanisms to support its installation. Whether this is a feed-in-tariff, net metering, grant funding, etc remains to  be seen. The good news is that the new support scheme for renewable electricity generation will be available in 2016 (according to the White Paper, nrgupgrade.com/services/).

“Part L” solar PV systems                                                                                                    During 2015 we saw a huge move away from solar hot water systems to solar PV to achieve Part L compliance on new-build properties. The main contributing factors were that solar PV requires no special cylinder, is relatively easy to install, has no fluid or moving parts and requires no ongoing servicing. In addition, solar PV normally offers better value for money for the builder or developer. Solar PV will continue to be the technology of choice as a renewable energy contribution on new homes.

Prices                                                                                                                                      Prices of solar PV panels, particularly 250-watt panels, continued to drop until mid- 2015 before rising again towards the end of the year. This is a pattern that will continue in to 2016.

Panel capacity                                                                                                                                                              At the moment we see most manufacturers moving away from producing 250-watt panels as they are under pressure from other markets to increase the watt capacity, and introduce higher efficiencies. Specifiers and consultants will have to consider this increase in panel capacity, as they have been used to requesting multiples of 250 watts on new-build properties. For instance, we at Rexel Energy Solutions already have 300-watt and 315-watt panels available.

Roof fixings                                                                                                                                                             The use of purpose-made roof hooks and flashings to attach solar PV panels using a good driller form Here to new roofs is becoming essential as this is a welcome move away from the old practice of drilling slates or tiles to find fixing points. Drilling slates or tiles was banned in the UK in 2014, and for good reason, under the MCS Regulations. The rubber seal on these bolts transferred a load onto the slates which led to stress cracks and leaks.

We continue to work with quality mounting component suppliers such as Van der Valk and Sunfixings to ensure the weather-tightness of rooftops for decades after the solar PV system has been installed.

Get help from Transition Roofing in Austin.

Inverters                                                                                                                                                          Enphase micro-inverters continue to be a popular way to connect solar PV to a new home. Electrical contractors require minimal specialist knowledge to install the Enphase system, and there is no space taken up inside the property. In addition, Enphase micro-inverters can be set up with ESB grid parameters before they leave the Rexel warehouse. Standard string inverters can be a lower upfront cost than micro inverters but the extra electrical output and 20-year Enphase warranty normally negate the extra cost.

Battery technology                                                                                                                                      Towards the end of 2016 we expect to see plenty of battery storage options on the market but the big question will still surround the cost. At the moment the extra cost is prohibitively high for most installations, but when suppliers such as Tesla and Enphase launch their offering this year, we expect competition to grow and prices to fall.

Efficient and lower-cost battery solutions will help homes, businesses and Ireland’s grid network. Batteries can be topped up by solar during the day and used during the night. In place of solar energy in winter time we can charge batteries using cheap night-rate electricity. Rexel is working with Enphase, SolarEdge and Nedap to bring affordable battery storage products to the Irish market.

Rexel Energy Solutions can provide solar PV products in complete kits, or in component form. Kits come with European Agrément certificates and ESB grid compliance verification.

Contact: Damien Phillips, Manager, Rexel Energy Solutions. Tel: 087 – 374 7359;

email: damien.phillips@rexel.ie;

Leave a Reply