Ground Mounted Commercial Solar PV Installations
Solar panels are a source of renewable 'green' energy. There has been a massive increase in the last two years of homes, businesses, commercial properties and agricultural properties having them installed. The main reason for their surge in popularity is the Feed in Tariff, a government backed scheme that enables the owner of the property the chance to receive payments for any energy the panels produce when the system is hooked up to the national grid. The ever rising cost of electricity has been another great motivator. But it is not just property owners who can benefit from solar PV. An increasing number of landowners are now choosing to have ground mounted commercial systems installed upon their land.
How Do The Panels Work?
Solar panels are not as complex as people might choose to assume. They work by converting the energy found in natural daylight into energy used around the home. We have all seen solar calculators before and the panels work in exactly the same way. For a commercial ground mounted system, the power can still be used within an adjacent home or business. Alternatively, if there is no property on the land it can either be used to power neighbouring buildings or it can be sold directly to the national grid. Thanks to the Feed in Tariff, not only are there savings to be made on bills, there is also the chance to be paid for every KWH of electricity you produce whether you use it or not. The installation of the solar panels will also significantly increase the value of the land.
Location and Permission
To get the maximum return for your investment in solar panels, they will need to be located in a place where they can gain maximum efficiency. Constant light during daytime hours is best obtained when the panels are south facing and not overshadowed by buildings or trees. For a typical commercial 50KW system you will need approximately 1/3 of an acre to spare. Land which is hard to farm is ideal, as is any patch of land that the owner has left to become idle.
Ground mounted systems have also been designed with farmers in mind and they can be erected so that smaller farm animals, such as chickens or sheep, can still graze the land underneath and around the panels, with no harm coming to either. However, the panels will need to be situated in a place that has good means of access for fitting and maintenance purposes.
One drawback to a ground mounted commercial system is that you will still need to obtain planning permission from your local authority before you can proceed with the scheme. Commercial installations on existing commercial buildings are now seen as permitted development but this is not the case with a ground mounted system. With the UK government eager to meet carbon emission targets, more and more planning applications are being approved, though, if the land is in a conservation area you may still be met with a refusal.
The advantages of installing a commercial solar installation are huge. Presumably, if you are considering a ground mounted system, you already have a spare patch of land in mind and having a system installed on the site is a great way to save and make money in the long term from what would otherwise remain an idle patch of land. For example, a typical 50KW may cost between £100k and £130k, but over the guaranteed lifespan of the panels (twenty five years) and the guaranteed payments from the Feed in Tariff scheme, you could end up with more than that amount in profit. This is after the panels have eventually paid for themselves.
The Feed in Tariff scheme is a government backed incentive that was originally launched in 2010 to encourage more of us to get sources of renewable energy installed on our homes and businesses. Payments from the tariff have already decreased and are set to decrease again soon. However, payments from the scheme are guaranteed for twenty five years and are index linked, meaning they will rise with inflation. So even though the time has now passed to get the maximum payments from the scheme, solar energy is still a worthwhile business investment that holds potential for many.