Solar panels are being used in domestic sectors and have become a part of commercial sectors as well. Businesses are looking to cut their carbon emissions by shifting to a cleaner source of energy. They are installing solar panels, which are beneficial to the environment and help cut down on electricity costs.
There are many benefits to installing solar panels for businesses. If you wish to install solar panels for your commercial building, you will need to know the process inside-out.
The guide provides you with information about solar panels for the commercial sector. It also focuses on both the pros and cons of installing a solar panel system for your commercial building.
- 1 Why You Should Use a Commercial Solar Panel
- 2 How Much Does a Commercial Solar Panel Cost?
- 3 Solar Panels for Businesses: Financing Options
- 4 Do You Need Planning Permission for a Commercial Solar PV?
- 5 Are There Any Maintenance Costs?
- 6 Benefits of Commercial Solar Panel
- 7 Drawbacks of a Commercial Solar Panel
- 8 Final Thoughts
Why You Should Use a Commercial Solar Panel
Installing solar panels for your business can help reduce your carbon footprint and also save money every year. It does not matter if your business is small or large; commercial solar panel installation benefits.
A business would mostly be active during the day, which makes using solar power an ideal factor. The solar energy produced by the solar panels will be directly supplied to the business. You can also use a battery storage system to pair with your solar array.
One of the major benefits of using solar panels for your business is saving major costs every year. The lifespan of a solar panel is around 25 years which can save around thousands of pounds.
Through solar panel installation, you can also see the excess energy back to the grid. This would incur extra income for your business and make up the installation costs. Moreover, switching to solar power shows that your business supports sustainable and green energy practices.
How Much Does a Commercial Solar Panel Cost?
The cost of a solar panel varies depending on several factors. Ideally, solar panels used for businesses cost between £16,000-£70,000. This is for small to medium-sized businesses.
Some factors that influence the costs of solar panels are the roof size, energy requirement, number of electrical applications used, etc.
You can determine if solar panels will be a feasible option for your business by checking your company’s energy consumption every month. This can be found out from your utility bill, which will show the per kWh costs and how much kWh of electricity you consume every month.
Approximately small to medium-sized businesses use about 30,000 to 50,000 kWh every year. However, this will also vary depending on the location of your business, solar system size, and business energy consumption.
If you have a small business, you can get the idea by estimating household solar panels. The costs for household solar panels are almost the same as for small businesses.
An approximate calculation for the cost of business solar panels would be £1000 per kilowatts.
The business will also have to pay installation costs apart from the cost of the components. The main components you would need are solar panels and inverters. Depending on the size of the solar panel system, the installation costs will also increase or decrease.
Solar Panels for Businesses: Financing Options
The UK government does not have any ongoing grants or financing options for business solar panels. However, some grants have been existent in the past. Businesses who are registered to these options can still enjoy the benefits.
A feed-in tariff (FiT) is a government grant that is for both commercial and domestic users. However, this grant is no longer operational since it was closed for new applications in March 2019.
Businesses that are already registered to the FiT grant can receive income from this. According to this grant, energy companies will need to pay a tariff based on each unit of their electricity generated. The energy company will also export the excess energy back to the grid and pay an export tariff on the unused energy by the business.
The company will receive payment per kilowatt of electricity that they give back to the grid. However, there is a limit to the amount of energy they can sell back.
Smart Export Guarantee (SEG)
Another grant that came into existence in January 2020 is the Smart Export Guarantee grant. Businesses can get financial benefits by selling the excess solar energy back to the national grid. However, the business should have a smart meter to measure the exported power to be eligible for the grant.
Solar Panel Funding
If you belong to the public sector, you can get some other solar funding options. One such example is Salix Funding that offers interest-free capital to businesses that install energy-efficient technologies.
The company, Salix, is government-owned by funded by the Department of Education, the Scottish Government, the Department of Business, the Welsh Government, and the Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Do You Need Planning Permission for a Commercial Solar PV?
Planning permission was necessary for commercial properties till 2012, but not for domestic properties. However, from 6th April 2012 onwards, this criterion was also lifted.
Both commercial and domestic properties no longer require planning permission for the installation of solar panels. However, this is for systems that generate up to 50 KWP electricity and thermal up to 45 kilowatts.
Commercial properties that are present in a listed building will require planning permission. This is the only exception to the permission rule.
If you are confused about whether planning permission is required or not, you can ask the contracting company. They will carry forward the process for you and take all the permissions on behalf of your business.
You should always be fully informed before signing any contracts. This will keep you in the loop about what the contract states and what type of permissions you require or don’t. It is also important to choose the right contracting company that can properly guide you.
Are There Any Maintenance Costs?
The best thing about solar panels is they require little to no maintenance. Hence, there are no extravagant maintenance costs involved.
The only complicated part of solar panels is the installation process. After the installation is complete, you will not have to worry about your solar panels for about 25 to 30 years.
You will only need to book the services of a professional examiner who will check your solar panels every five to six years. The solar panels should be kept clean at all times for them to work efficiently.
This maintenance can be done by anyone and does not require any professional expertise. The cleaner will need to ensure that no debris or dust is accumulated on the solar panels. However, if the commercial building is too high and hard to reach, you might need the assistance of a professional cleaner.
Benefits of Commercial Solar Panel
Using solar energy for your business has several benefits. Installing solar panel systems gives you an income opportunity and also makes your business energy efficient.
Below are the benefits of a solar panel for your business.
Reduces Utility Costs
The energy you receive from your commercial solar PV will cost much lesser than what you pay to your utility companies. You might save only a small amount every kilowatt, but eventually, the total would be a large amount.
Another great thing is the cost of maintenance of solar panels in the UK is considerably low. Therefore, your overall expenses behind the solar panels will remain low.
Solar panels for commercial properties help in making everyday operations more efficient. The standard efficiency of solar panels is around 15% to 20%. However, depending on the solar panels, the efficiency can go up to 42%.
The solar panels for commercial rooftops are not the same, so variations in types and efficiency will be different.
There are three types of solar panels with varying efficiency ratings. Monocrystalline solar panels are the most efficient, and they are made from a single piece of silicon. However, due to their high efficiency level, they are also very expensive.
Another type of solar panel is the polycrystalline panel. They are less efficient than monocrystalline solar panels. However, they are much more affordable and are made from multiple silicon pieces.
The least efficient solar panel is the thin-film solar panel. They need the most space and offer the least energy efficiency out of all three solar panels.
Before making your investment in solar panels, you need to see which will give you the most benefit in the long term.
A great benefit of solar panel installation for companies is you have a grant income potential. Even though there are changes in the exporting rates, companies can get additional revenue through the SEG grant. Moreover, you will be able to save money on your electric bills.
Even with the FiT not being functional any longer, any suppliers are providing rates similar to this grant. With this, you can make higher savings on your solar panel system. Additionally, several tax reliefs make solar PV system installation very attractive for businesses.
Produce Green Energy
The best thing about installing a solar PV system for your business is you reduce your carbon footprint. This is a renewable energy that produces clean and green energy. You will not be contributing to the increase in carbon footprint in the environment.
Non-renewable energy sources lead to carbon emissions which can be bad for the environment. This increases the carbon footprint, which will harm future generations in the long term. With solar energy, you will be creating a sustainable and safer environment for everyone. The positive environmental changes will be beneficial for society to a great extent.
Drawbacks of a Commercial Solar Panel
A commercial solar panel has several benefits, but that does not mean it is without any drawbacks. The drawbacks of business solar panels are mentioned below,
Expensive Initial Cost
Solar panels save energy costs and give high ROI (return on investment) in the long run, but the initial investment is very high. You will have to provide upfront money for the installation process.
That said, it is important to know that the break-even for commercial panels is very quick compared to domestic panels. This is mainly because commercial panels generate a larger amount of electricity in a very short time.
Dependent on Weather
Another major drawback of a solar PV system is its dependency on the weather. The solar cells convert sunlight into electricity; hence direct exposure to sunlight is necessary.
If the weather condition is poor, the efficiency of the solar PV system will decline. This means if it is cloudy, extremely sunny, or snowy, the efficiency will be compromised. It is also crucial to remember that overexposure to sunlight can be bad for the system. This leads to overheating of the solar panels, which can damage the solar cells.
Due to this disadvantage, you might not get consistent energy conversion throughout the year. However, solar panels are capable of producing energy even during winters or when there is indirect sunlight. Hence, the solar PV system will still be functional.
Sunlight is renewable energy that helps generate solar energy for running different electrical appliances. Solar power is not just restricted to households but is used in commercial sectors as well.
Before you go for the solar installation, you need to check the roof space of your commercial building. The roof space will help you determine the number and type of solar panels you will need.
Solar power contributes to cost savings of energy prices and makes you independent from the utility system. You will also be making a great environmental impact by opting for green and clean energy.
If you wish to go for solar installation in your business, it is best to get in touch with a professional installer. The installer will guide you on the right path and choose the correct solar PV system for your business.
With the right solar system, you will be able to make a huge change to your business efficiency and get interesting financial benefits that would not have been possible with the utility system.