Solar Energy Grants for Business
Why use Solar Energy?
Solar energy is what is described as a renewable energy, which means that it comes from a natural, inexhaustible source, namely the sun. Solar energy is seen as one of the most important sources of renewable energy and the government has recently invested a lot of money in trying to attract businesses of all sizes to using it. It is an environmentally friendly form of energy, meaning that no harmful by-products like carbon dioxide are created in producing it. A solar panel works by absorbing the photons from natural sunlight and converting this into electricity for commercial purposes. Solar panels are usually arranged side by side to form what is termed an array.
Solar energy is an extremely efficient form of renewable energy in places like Africa and Spain and other countries where there is a lot of sunshine all year round, but due to advances in solar technology, they can now also be very good sources of renewable energy in cooler climates like the UK. The UK Government has invested a considerable amount by the way of grants and financial incentives known as feed-in tariffs, to attract more people to using solar energy.
One of the main reasons behind the government's decision to introduce the feed-in tariff is to achieve grid parity. This is where the cost of producing renewable energy is equal to or less than the collective cost of producing energy by conventional means (coal and gas). The whole purpose is to, over a period of years, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and thereby significantly reduce the emission of harmful greenhouse gases into the environment.
The Solar Feed-In Tariff
Whilst the government does not provide any specific grants for the installation of solar panels, it does offer the feed-in tariff where users of solar panels are paid by the government for every unit of electricity they produce from solar energy. They are also paid an additional, smaller amount for every unit of electricity they produce but do not use and can then sell back to the energy provider. This was introduced in early 2010 and so far interest in the scheme has been substantial, but, about a year into the scheme, the government announced that the feed-in tariff for large scale solar installations (generating over 50KW) would be cut due to an influx of foreign speculators looking to build large solar farms in the UK and take advantage of the scheme. This cut has been welcomed by many green campaigners as the cuts for larger installations will mean there will be more money available to fund smaller scale solar installations.
How the Feed-In Tariff Works
The feed in tariff (also known as the Clean Energy Cashback Scheme) was originally introduced to give people a financial incentive for switching to solar energy. The tariff pays each business using solar energy 41.3p for every unit of electricity produced whether it's used or not. An additional 3p per unit is paid for any electricity not used and sold back to the national grid. There are also feed-in tariff calculators that enable you to calculate how much money you would make based on the size of solar panel system and the KW output of the panels in your system. The payments from the feed-in tariff last for the lifetime of the panels (about 25 years). On average, the initial outlay of installing a panel system can be recouped within 7-8 years meaning that the rest is pure profit.
Alternatively some energy suppliers, like British Gas, will provide and install solar panels for free in return for the surplus electricity they produce for the lifetime of the panels. So you not only get free solar panels but free electricity as well. For businesses that are high users of electricity, the savings which can be made from the feed-in tariff can be considerable. You should also be aware, that your business organisation will only qualify for the feed-in tariff if the installers of your solar panels are certified by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme.
Virtually any kind of organisation can qualify for the feed-in tariff, from schools and colleges to businesses of all kinds. There are also certain grants available that will help with cost of installing and paying for the equipment. In addition to that, solar panels are very low maintenance as they have virtually no moving parts and it is generally very rare for solar panels to need repairing. All they need is an annual check which is simple to do and can be carried out by the owners of the panels themselves.