Feed In Tariffs For Commercial And Non-Domestic Properties

The government’s Feed In Tariff scheme extends beyond domestic users. The public sector, health services, education, places of work and worship are all included. Just with domestic users there are criteria that have to be met in order to qualify - like the size of the solar installation has to be less than 5MW - but that’s sufficient to mean that almost everyone could become eligible and covers many types of properties. Included are industrial buildings, hospitals and medical centres, care facilities and nursing homes, warehouses, farm buildings, churches and retail outlets.

As solar systems are listed as a permitted development technology planning permission is not usually required but it’s always best to check, as some properties, like churches for instance, may well be listed buildings. A simple check with local authorities should clarify the matter.

As with domestic installations, products used and installers must be MCS accredited in order to qualify for payments. Here are some examples of what type of savings and income can be generated from the Feed In Tariff for non-domestic installations.

Farm Buildings

There have been some changes to Feed In Tariff regulations and agricultural land. New deadlines for completing solar farm developments limit the potential for large scale solar farms being installed on agricultural land. However, solar panel arrays up to 50kW which would require an area of approximately 400 m2 installed on farm buildings or erected on special frames can bring excellent returns. As with domestic installations, all installations under 50kW must use MCS accredited products and installers in order to qualify for the FIT scheme. If the installation is above 50kW it has to be accredited through Ofgem’s Renewable and CHP Register. Then the farmer is able to receive the generation and export tariffs and make savings on the electricity used on site in a similar way to any other homeowner but on a larger scale.

Example Of What Can Be Achieved With A Solar Panel Installation On A Farm Building

Area of South-Facing Roof 148 m2
Number of Panels 82
Output Per Panel 230w
Total Predicted Generation Per Year 16,189 kWh
Feed In Tariff Rate 31.4p/kWh
Export Rate 3p/kWh
% Exported Rate 50%
Annual Income from FIT £5,326
% Energy Used on Farm 50%
Energy Savings at 12p per kWh £971
Total Cost of Installation £64,124
Gross Annual Margin £6,298
Return on Initial Investment 9.8%
Payback Period 10 Years
Predicted Total Income Over 25 Years £193,652

Schools

Schools too are finding that installing solar is not only a great example in the community of how to cut carbon but a practical way to defend themselves against rising electricity costs. With a generation tariff of between 31.4p and 43.3p per unit and 3p per unit exported to the grid,
it’s also a good investment in the future. As with household applications, the tariff is guaranteed for 25 years and payments are inflation-linked.

Example Of A School Installation Based On A Typical 4 kWp Solar

System Situated On A South-Facing Roof
Cost of System £16,000 Approximately
Expected Units Generated Yearly 3,400 kWh
Yearly Generation Payment £1,400
% Energy Used by the School 75%
% Energy Exported to the Grid 25%
Estimated Savings on Electricity Bill £331
Export Income £25
Payback Period 10 Years
Total Savings and Income Per Year £1756

Note: The inflation-linked values will cause payments to increase each year.

Industrial Buildings

There is great potential for large commercial properties. An ideal situation would be a 9.66 kWh (42 panel) system installed on a southfacing roof.

Example Of A Solar System Installed On an Industrial Building
Output Per Panel 230w
Predicted Yearly Electricity Generation 8.292 kWh
Feed In Tariff Rate 43.3p/kWh
Customer’s Electricity Price 10p per kWh
Annual Income From FIT In First Year £4,134
Total Financial Return Over 25 Years £151,081
% Return On Initial Investment 16%
Payback Period 8 Years

Churches

The Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) has produced guidelines about the things that should be considered when exploring the possibilities of whether solar panel systems are appropriate for a church.More information and practical ideas for making your church more energy efficient can be got from the Diocese of Oxford, who has produced a simple guide called For Creed and Creation.
You will need to find out if planning permission is required as the church may be a listed building, in which case you may have to work alongside English Heritage and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB).

Here’s An Example Of What Was Achieved By A Non-listed Church Building Installation
Amount Of Panels 129
Panel Capacity 24KW
Roof Orientation South Facing
Cost Of Installation £80,000
Estimated Income From FIT Payment £8,000 Per Year

Frequently Asked Questions About Feed In Tariffs For Commercial And Non-Domestic Properties

Q: How would a church find the funding for a solar energy installation?

A: Many churches have managed to access grants and then raise
the remaining funding within the local community. There are
ethical co-operatives that match investors with ‘green’
projects. The investors help to cover the upfront costs for a
share of the FITs profits. And there are ‘rent your roof’ schemes
or ‘free’ solar panel offers where businesses pay the cost of the
panels and installation and in return take the FITs payments.

Q: I’ve heard about the Generation Green programme, what is it?

A: Generation Green is a programme designed by British Gas to
educate and inspire pupils and the wider community about
sustainability and energy efficiency. There are a variety of
educational resources and activities available and opportunities
to win solar panels for the school.

Q: How long does it take to install a solar panel system on a commercial property?

A: In comparison to domestic systems which take between 2 to 5
days to install, commercial systems can take several weeks to
over a month, depending on size. However, most of the work
takes place outside so disturbance to the workplace is minimal.