Are solar panels worth it in Ireland? It’s a frequently asked question. Considering a solar panel in the south of Spain receives over twice the solar irradiance we do here in Ireland:
How much do you need for it to be a worthwhile investment?
The short answer is that most homes in Ireland do receive enough solar energy – light is sufficient, it doesn’t need to be direct sunlight – to make it a worthwhile investment. And that’s before the environmental benefits are factored in.
For the longer answer, please read on…
How much electricity will solar panels generate?
This heat map shows how solar irradiation varies across Europe.
In the south of Spain you can see that it approaches 2000 kWh/m2/year.
While in Ireland you can see that it’s about half that amount.
Is that enough?
Taking a closer look at Ireland, you won’t be surprised to see that the Sunny South East is the place to be if you want to generate the most solar electricity per square meter, in some places generating over 1000 kWh/kWp in the year.
Remember 1 kWh costs about €0.20 retail in Ireland, so that would be a saving of €200 per kW installed (kWp means ‘peak’ – or maximum rated – output power).
A typical solar panel today is around 333W, in which case, 3 are required to have 1 kWp. Those 3 solar panels in parts of Wexford will generate over 1000 kWh in the year.
You’ll notice most of the country is a shade of yellow, so forecast to generate over 800 kWh/kWp/year. However, this varies and for example those same 3 solar PV panels in Athlone will generate around 850 kWh in a year.
To put that in context, the national average electricity consumption across all homes in Ireland, as reported by SEAI, is about 4200 kWh/year. So that means that 15 solar panels are required to generate a typical home’s needs for the year. With higher output 390W panels, only 12 panels are required.
How much will that save me?
12 high-output panels in Athlone will generate about 4200 kWh over the course of the year, as shown in the chart over.
Assuming a cost of €0.20 each, and you get to use most of them (more on that on our Cheat Sheet), then that would be a saving of about €750 this year, and increasing with electricity prices each year after that.
There are very few things you can buy for your home that put money back in your pocket.
How long to get my money back?
When we decide to spend money on our homes, beyond essential repairs and upkeep for wear and tear, most of the time it’s for comfort and lifestyle reasons, and the hope that it will add value to the property over the long run.
Solar is no different, well – actually, it is different. It will reduce the cost of an essential service that you will always need: electricity. If you’re spending €1400 a year on electricity now (~€250/bill), ten years from now you will have spent in aggregate nearly €16 thousand (allowing for 3% inflation and not allowing for an electric car or heat pump).
You’ll be relieved to hear that a solar PV system for your home can cost a lot less than that, even before allowing for the SEAI grant of between €1800 and €3000.
So, the longer answer to the question Are solar panels worth it in Ireland? is the same as the short answer: Yes.