Solar is very much a “fit and forget” technology – it is extremely reliable with virtually no maintenance or snagging issues, and as we continue to invest in product development, the longevity of panels increases. Solar PV systems are good for 30+ years, far outstripping a new home warranty. One criticism of the technology has been that the panels are not recyclable. However, solar panels are comprised of metals and glass, and it is now possible to recycle 90% of a solar panel.
Solar PV offers an impressive life span, and continues to provide piece of mind, financial and environmental benefits to housebuilders and homeowners. When we first started out 11 years ago, solar was considered as an ‘alternative’ technology by homeowners and for housebuilders, an awkward hurdle in the already complicated construction process. By adapting our service and streamlining the installation process, it is now a simple, economical and increasingly standard element of home builds. Internationally, there are some very interesting moves towards making solar standard, and we are seeing some local governments and housebuilders making great strides towards sustainable energy models.
We are working with large developments, such as ‘Bucklers Park’ in Crowthorne, Berkshire. When complete, it will provide 1,000 new homes, 100 of which will be affordable housing. Sustainability is at the heart of the development, and Eco2Solar has been selected above competition to install the PV solar technology to the new houses. We anticipate that between 25 – 50% of the buildings will have PV solar installed, which represents one of the largest solar PV residential installations in the UK to date. It’s clear that that renewables are no longer an ‘add on’ in the construction process, but instead an integral element of the homebuilding model.
Our work with housebuilders is just one part of a wider cultural and behavioural shift, as public demand increases for more sustainable energy solutions in the home. Undoubtedly, there is still work to be done in changing attitudes and expectations of solar. However, I believe that at some point, in the not-to-distant future, the technology will be an asset demanded on all new developments. In the same way the concept of installing a single glazed window is now out-of-date, as we move towards greater environmental awareness and the necessity to work towards sustainable energy solutions, the idea of building a home without incorporated renewable technology, will too seem archaic. The culture on solar is changing. But that change will take time.
Paul Hutchens, Director, Eco2Solar