✔ A commercial solar installation will seriously lower your carbon footprint
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If you're looking for ways to cut your company's carbon emissions down massively, look no further. Solar panels are an excellent way to both help the environment, and make your energy bills more affordable!
On this page, we'll cover everything you need to know about commercial solar panel systems and how they can benefit you. If you've already decided that solar panels are the way to go, we can also help you with the next steps.
Instead of trawling through comparison websites to find the perfect set of panels, all you need to do is pop your details in this quick form, and we'll pass it onto our trusted suppliers. Once they have this information, they'll be in touch shortly with quotes for you to compare!
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Business and Commercial Solar Panels
Commercial solar refers to systems installed in larger operations in sectors like agriculture and manufacturing. Business solar refers to systems installed in small to medium-sized businesses (SME’s) based in office premises.
As an SME may have limited space for a solar panel installation, the return on investment (ROI) will probably be closer to that of domestic installations.
A commercial solar panel system with a substantial section of land or roof space will see a greater ROI due to a government scheme called Feed-in-tariffs (FiT) which saves businesses money if they generate their own renewable energy.
Some commercial operations have been setting up small solar farms to make the most of the space they have to run them and to generate extra income from selling the electricity they create from their solar installation, back to the grid through FiT.
How Much Do Commercial Solar Panels Cost?
The cost of solar panels has plummeted in the last 10 years due to advancements in technology. The type of solar panel system required will depend on the size of the commercial business and therefore the range of wattage and price will scale.
The most popular systems for businesses have a 5-9kW output but a commercial operation with large spaces of land may require a system with an output of 25kW to even as much as 200kW.
The table below shows the typical cost of commercial solar panel systems.
Commercial Solar System Size
5kW – 9kW
£8,000 – £14,500
£15,000 – £17.000
£40,000 – £43,500
£70,000 – £74,000
What Grants Are Available for Commercial Solar Panels?
For some businesses, the installation of solar panels can be extremely lucrative thanks to the government scheme, feed-in tariffs (FiT).
Once registered through the FiT scheme an energy company pays a generation tariff based on a set rate for each unit (or kWh) of electricity generated.
The energy company also pays an export tariff of 4.77p/kWh for all energy not used, which they can export back to the grid.
There are caps on the amount of energy that you can sell back to the grid (although these are high) and the amount you will be paid per kilowatt will depend on the size of your solar panel installation and its potential energy output.
Commercial Solar Feed-in Tariff
The table below shows the latest feed-in tariffs rates for commercial solar systems in the UK. All tariff rates are pence per kilowatt-hour.
Size of Commercial System
Feed-in Tariff Rate Jan – March 2017
Feed-in Tariff Rate April – June 2017
Feed-in Tariff Rate July – Sept 2017
Feed-in Tariff Rate Oct – Dec 2017
10kW – 50kW
50kW – 250kW
250kW – 1 MW
How Much Will You Make?
How much a commercial or smaller business can earn from solar panel energy is very much dependent on how much sunlight they receive throughout the day and the size of the system.
As a guideline, for smaller businesses, a 4kW system with FiT and electricity savings could add up to around £16,000 over 20 years.
For larger businesses, A 10kw system could offer returns of about £2,000 per year and a 50kW could deliver upwards of £10,000 a year in income when installed in optimal conditions (south facing with no shade whatsoever).
What Are the Tax Implications?
If the solar panels are providing your business with power as their main purpose then you will not have to pay tax on any incentives offered through them. This means that any FiT payments are tax-free for the entire time they are paid.
The only time that tax would have to be paid on solar panel income is if you created a solar farm where the sole purpose of the panels was to generate a profit.
Do You Need Planning Permission for Commercial Solar?
Up until 2012, planning permission was not required for domestic properties but was required for commercial properties. As of 6th April 2012, this has been lifted. Commercial and agricultural properties no longer have to apply for planning permission to have a solar panel installation fitted.
This applies to systems up to 50KWP for electricity and up to 45 kilowatts for thermal. The only exception to this rule is if your commercial property is a listed building in which case planning permission will still be an issue.
Are Solar Panels Right for Your Business?
Catering, Hospitality and Leisure
Energy is a huge cost to the hospitality and leisure sector. Gyms, hotels and leisure centres spend vast amounts on electricity and quite often have large roof space which is not being used. Solar panels could bring in huge savings to energy bills and earn an extra income from FiT. Some may also qualify for the PPA to help with installation costs.
Construction and Engineering
The construction sector is under increasing pressure to meet minimum renewable energy requirements. For example, the PART L regulation insists that 10% of electricity consumed by a new-build must be self-sufficient. Including a solar panel system into the building’s plans and construction budget will see great returns on energy saving and from the advantages of the FiT payments. It is also worth looking into a PPA for installation support.
Farming and Agriculture
An agricultural operation like a poultry or dairy farm could greatly benefit from making good use of the space by installing solar panels. The FiT scheme could earn the farm an extra income by selling back surplus energy to the grid. A solar panel system will also increase a farm’s green credentials which is an attractive proposition to some retailers. Some suppliers offer schemes to take the burden off the cost of installation with a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) which will install a system for free and allow the farm to purchase the energy at an agreed rate, lower than a typical energy supplier.
Government and Public Sector
Solar energy is certainly something for the public sector to consider and which could bring benefits to social housing, hospitals, transport and schools. Reducing the cost of electricity will make a substantial saving to the maintenance of these building as well as showcasing that local authorities are greener thinking and innovative. There are also financial schemes available to help with the cost of installation.
Schools, Colleges and Universities
Educational premises are often on sites with large roof space which could be better used by installing solar panels. Not only will they see a financial advantage from solar power in reduced bills and possible income from the FiT scheme, but on a wider level, it will help to raise awareness of renewable energy. Some suppliers offer schemes to take the burden off the cost of installation with a PPA.
Shops and Retail
For retailers with large overheads who are constantly competing with the online market, cutting down expensive energy bills with solar power would bring well-needed savings. For self-funded panels, retailers could earn an extra income from FiT. Some may also qualify for the PPA to help with installation costs. Retailers powering their facility through green energy could also send a positive message to customers.
Hospitals and Healthcare
With expensive medical equipment that requires a lot of power to operate, private hospitals, clinics and surgeries would benefit from the savings made from solar power on their energy bills, as well as additional income from the FiT. Some of these healthcare companies may also be eligible for a PPA if self-funding the installation is not an option.
The usual benefits of reduced energy bills and extra income apply to businesses that own their office space. For corporate landlords who may not see the value in a large investment with the benefit of reduced energy bills going to tenants, solar energy will contribute favourably towards your energy efficiency assessment. The PPA is also available to fund it and reduced, greener bills may attract future tenants.
Warehouses and Manufacturing
With government pressure for all companies to reduce their carbon footprint and the manufacturing sector powering large machinery, installing solar energy is a good move. By helping the environment, it also sends a positive message to the rest of the supply chain about the company’s green ethics. Manufacturing companies may also be able to save costs through a PPA.
Finding an installer
So what's the next step? You need to find out how much it'll actually cost you to get solar panels for your business. That's where The Eco Experts come in. It's easy, just fill in this quick form with your details, and our trusted installers will be in touch.