In a previous article, we looked at solar PV technology and explained what it is, how it works and why it may suit businesses as a source of cleaner electricity generation.
For any new installation to be worth it to a business, costs and disruption must be weighed against potential savings. Whilst solar PV is growing more popular, there are still clear challenges for commercial applications based on the sheer demand for electricity posed by many businesses.
So to answer a common question about the viability of commercial solar power, we need to explore the value and efficiency of the technology as a whole and how it may impact the way commercial businesses use electricity.
Questions to consider
To determine whether commercial solar panels are viable for your business, you need to answer a few questions:
Do you have the physical space and structural requirements needed for solar installations?
For solar power to be useful in the commercial sector, it must provide enough electricity to fund your premises and requirements. In order to do so, the panels themselves can end up taking up lots of space – the more surface area panels cover, the more sun they can absorb to convert into electricity.
Exactly how much space you’ll need will depend on your electricity requirements, so you’ll need help from our team to determine what your business requires and how this translates to panels per square foot. As a rough guide, a single panel can produce up to 12kwh per square foot – but this will depend on wattage.
Without speaking to an expert, you can’t ever really ‘guestimate’ space requirements. Designing efficient solar systems means maximising your available space, as well as identifying parts of your rooftop that may be unsuitable for panels.
Of course, most commercial buildings have more space than residential ones – meaning you can fit more solar panels and therefore generate more electricity.
Will you be willing to invest in battery storage?
Battery storage is an added cost that some businesses won’t see as viable. Whilst it’s true that batteries can help you store excess energy, which can then be used when it’s less sunny, a more common route is to agree on a deal with a mainstream energy supplier who will buy any excess at wholesale prices and simply use that money to purchase electricity back from the grid if your solar system is struggling.
Are you happy to front a higher initial investment until solar can repay its upfront costs?
Solar installations can be expensive in the beginning, but often repay that investment within two years. Your business must be able to afford that initial outlay and be comfortable with that timeline. There are grants and tax incentives available to help fund the installation (more on that further down).
Considering government support for commercial solar
Whilst government rulings impact domestic property, they are far more impactful in the commercial sector, where legislation can make or break certain practices in the industry. Historically, any government support for particular energy systems has led to increased commercial uptake thanks to tax incentives and various funding schemes.
There have been recent positive signs for those in the solar industry. New government targets around energy generation promise an exciting future, one which commercial businesses should be aware of.
Britain’s ‘Energy Security Strategy’, announced in the same year, set ambitious plans to invest more heavily in leading sources of renewable energy. Solar energy was singled out in particular, with the government stating, “we will look to increase the UK’s current 14GW of solar capacity, which could grow up to 5 times by 2023, consulting on the rules for solar projects, particularly on domestic and commercial rooftops.”
2022 was a record-breaking year for the UK in terms of renewable energy generation, with up to 40% of all energy generated by ‘green’ technologies. As more support is poured into renewables, commercial solar, in particular looks more attractive to businesses with the space and capital needed to deal with the up-front commitment.
Is commercial solar viable?
Without understanding exactly how the site and space considerations of your site impact solar’s efficiency, it’s hard to give a definitive answer. To really answer it properly, you’re best off getting in touch with our team so we can carry out a survey and offer a realistic assessment of solar’s viability for your premises.
However, with costs for installation falling and government support increasing, it’s hard to continue paying for rising energy prices from the grid when you can create your own electricity – even in the UK’s somewhat tricky climate. If you’re interested in solar power and want to assess how viable it is for your business, get in touch today.