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NAEA under fire over "absurd" claims about solar panels

A recent National Association of Estate Agents press release suggesting solar panels were among the “top things” to devalue a home has landed the organisation in hot water - and in a spat with an energy trade body.

The Solar Trade Association’s chief executive Paul Barwell says “there is no factual evidence” for the assertion, made by the NAEA, that solar panels may save money on energy bills in the short-term and are environmentally friendly but “the problem with technology is that it ages quickly, and it can be expensive to upgrade”.

Speaking to the Solar Power Portal, Barwell refutes the claim.

“All the evidence that has been gathered over the years from panel manufacturers and inverter manufacturers is that panels are still operating at more than 90 per cent efficiency after 20 years. That is factual; it is the degradation that people now use for modelling new installations and certainly older installations are pretty much the same" he says.

And he reveals that the Solar Trade Association had previously attempted to publish an estate agent sales pack with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. 

With the backing of the then-Department of Energy and Climate Change, the pack would have given details of panel installation and likely savings for home owners. However, RICS pulled out and the idea was dropped. 

"If people don't know what the panels are doing on the roof then they may not want them but they're not given the economic reasons why the system is up there and how it might save on energy bills, as well as the environmental aspects. They're really missing the bigger picture" concludes Barwell.

The recent NAEA press release is not the association’s only run-in with solar panels. 

Just eight per cent of estate agents said panels increased house values but 17 per cent suggested they decrease values. Some 67 per cent say they make no difference.

At the time NAEA managing director Mark Hayward said panels were unlikely to feature in any new valuation models for agents or mortgage providers. “They’re on very few people’s shopping lists at the moment. People don’t buy features, they buy benefits. So you need to articulate it in terms of savings” he advised the industry.

Over the weekend Hayward commented to Estate Agent Today about the spat with the Solar Trade Association, saying: “Anecdotal evidence gathered among members indicates solar panels are one of many things which may deter some potential home-buyers from making an offer. However, it is a matter of opinion and depends on a huge range of factors including the age of the technology and of course the inclination and interests of the buyer.”

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