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Last updated: 15 March 2024

Commercial Solar Panels in the UK: Complete Guide (2024)

Commercial solar panels UK
  • On average, commercial solar panels can cost £16,000 – £60,000 (20kW to 50kW systems) for small to medium-sized businesses.
  • Reduced costs, energy efficiency, and energy independence are among the main benefits of solar panels for businesses.
  • On average, commercial solar panels can break even in 4 or 5 years due to their high solar absorption capacities.
  • The best solar panel companies for larger arrays include LG, Sharp, SunPower, Panasonic, and Yingli Solar.

Commercial solar panels can be beneficial regardless of whether your company is large or small. Most businesses are active in the daytime, which means they are the perfect candidates for utilising solar panels and enjoying the cost savings that come with them. Let’s see if commercial solar panels will be right for you.

However, if you already know that you want to make the switch to solar panels for your home or small business, we can help you compare the best offers on the market. Ordinarily, it can take days of strenuous research to find a reliable installer on your own, which is why we do the vetting for you and provide multiple offers.

Simply fill in one simple, 30-second form to receive up to 4 free, non-binding quotes from commercial solar panel installers in your area. Reliable local installers can keep the prices low and help you navigate local incentives and solar panel grants. Our service is free and non-binding, so click the button below to get started now.

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Why use solar panels for businesses?

Why Use Solar Panels for Businesses

Commercial solar panel installation can bring many benefits:

  • Over the 25-year lifetime of solar panels, savings can equate to thousands of pounds. A 20kW system can potentially save businesses over £3,000 annually on their electricity bills.
  • Solar panels allow for energy independence and some level of insulation from fluctuating electricity prices. They can also be handy as a backup when there is a power outage, especially if you have a solar battery.
  • If you operate industrial solar panels, you can sell excess energy to utility companies for a profit.
  • By switching to commercial solar panels for your business, you are also lowering your carbon footprint along with the operating costs.
  • Solar energy is also renewable and carbon neutral, which could improve your reputation. Switching would indicate your business’s commitment to green and sustainable practices and energy conservation.

How much do commercial solar panels cost?

On average, commercial solar panels cost between £16,000-£70,000 for small to medium-sized businesses. Several factors influence the cost of solar panels, such as roof size, the amount of energy produced and the number used.

Most small to medium-sized businesses use 30,000-50,000kWh of electricity each year. Depending on where in the UK your business is located, your system size, and the cost per kW, this can vary.

Begin by evaluating the cost to determine if solar panels are a feasible option for your business. Take a closer look at your utility bill and see how much energy you use each month along with how much the utility company charges you per kilowatt (kW).

A general breakdown of the cost of commercial solar panels can be seen below, excluding VAT.

System sizeAverage costBreak-even time
10kW£13,000 – £15,0005 – 6 years
20kW£16,000 – £30,0004 – 5 years
50kW£33,000 – £60,0003 – 6 years
60kW£39,000 – £75,0003 – 5 years
80kW£50,000 – £100,0003 – 6 years
100kW£60,000 – £120,0002 – 5 years

For an idea of scale: A 15kW system should, on average, contain enough solar panels for a small business in the UK, assuming they use up 39kWh to 60kWh per day. The average for small businesses in the UK, according to energy providers, is between 41kWh and 68kWh.

If you operate a small business, you could get a price estimate by comparing the installation cost of solar panels and solar battery prices in the UK.

In addition, you may be eligible for tax relief if you have commercial solar panels installed. Although, this is not possible for businesses that rely on solar energy for their revenue generation, such as solar farms.

cost of commercial solar panels

What are the installation costs?

When installing a solar panel system for your business, the main things you are paying for are the panels and the inverters. If you are installing a very large solar panel system, the installation costs may rise slightly, especially if it takes more time to carry out the installation.

A way to estimate the installation costs of commercial solar panels is to calculate 0.2p per Watt fitted. That would mean it can cost approximately £2,000 (excl. VAT) to install a 10kW system. For large commercial systems, it may take multiple workers to install them, and the more people required, the higher the costs.

Prices can also depend on the brand. Commercial solar companies like SunPower can be more expensive per kW, for example, while Chinese companies offer cheaper alternatives. Once the initial installation costs are covered, though, there are very few additional costs, unless you are also installing solar batteries.

Do you need planning permission?

In some situations, you may need to obtain planning permissions before installing commercial solar panels. In many cases, the contracting company completing the installation may be willing to sort out these permissions on your behalf.

Always ask before signing any contracts, so you know what to expect. Some regions require planning permission for installing solar panels on flat roofs. If your building or property site is designated as historical or part of a world heritage site, you will need permission.

If you are in doubt, we highly recommend consulting a professional solar panel installer. There are many qualified installation companies across the UK, but finding the right one can take days of research and calling or emailing. However, by filling in our 30-second form, you can be connected with up to 4 different vetted installers in no time.

Each installer will be able to help you with several things:

  • Identifying if you need planning permission
  • Providing you with a competitive quote tailored to your energy demands
  • Installing your new solar panel system.
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What maintenance costs are there?

The maintenance costs for solar panels are very low, which is one of the perks of buying commercial solar panels. Once installed, you only need to have a professional examine them every four to six years, therefore solar panel maintenance is very easy.

In general, solar panels only require regular light cleaning to remove dust and debris. By keeping them clean, you ensure maximum efficiency. Depending on the setup complexity, you can lower costs by maintaining the system yourself throughout the year.

Solar panels on commercial buildings may be too high to reach, so consider hiring a professional cleaner if necessary. An annual checkup and cleaning would amount to about £9.50 per panel.

Grants for solar panels on commercial buildings

While it’s commonplace for homes, can businesses get free solar panels as well? Currently, the United Kingdom does not offer government grants for solar panels on commercial buildings. On the other hand, the UK government has also applied 0% VAT on goods like solar panels and sustainable technologies which can save purchase costs immensely.

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) took effect in January 2020, and businesses can potentially experience financial gain from exporting excess energy back to the national grid. To be eligible, you must have a smart meter to measure the power exported.

There are also some solar panel funding opportunities if you are in the public sector. Salix Funding, for example, provides interest-free capital for energy-efficient technologies. Salix is owned by Governments: it’s funded by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Scottish government, the Welsh government, and the Department for Education.

The best way to find out what incentives and costs you might incur is to ask a reliable solar panel installer. Finding one can be a hurdle that takes days to overcome, especially when there are so many to choose from. Luckily, we have a network of thoroughly vetted installers that you can easily gain access to.

Fill out a simple, 30-second form and we’ll get back to you with up to 4 free, non-binding quotes from local installers. You can get professional advice on what grants apply to you and look at the best prices in your area. Click the button below to get started.

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Financial Savings

The SEG allows suppliers to set the price for the energy they purchase. According to the legislation, rates can be flexible or fixed, so long as they are above zero.

While these rates may vary, expect them to mimic wholesale and market prices. This could equate to a sizable profit from the excess energy exported from your solar panels. The earning rate in 2024 is roughly between 5p to 15p per kWh, depending on what provider you have.

What are the benefits of commercial solar PV?

benefits of commercial solar PV

There are many advantages of solar energy, such as cost, efficiency, and income potential. Below, we break down the 3 key advantages of using solar panels for your business.

1. Reduced Utility Costs

Energy from commercial solar PV panels will cost a fraction of what you were paying to receive from a utility company. While saving only a few pence per kWh sounds small, it adds up quickly.

Additionally, the average solar panel maintenance cost in the UK is relatively low. Therefore, you can enjoy reduced overall expenses for your electricity consumption.

2. Efficient Energy Production

Commercial solar panels can make your day-to-day operations more efficient. Standard solar panel efficiency levels are 15-20%, but they can reach 42% in some cases.

Commercial rooftop solar panels are not all created from the same material and therefore have different efficiency ratings.

Monocrystalline solar panels are made from one silicon piece and are known for being the most efficient solar panel type on the market. As such, they are also the most expensive.

However, large solar panels made from this material will perform better in low sunlight levels than polycrystalline panels.

Several pieces of silicon are melted together to produce polycrystalline panels. These are easier to create, which makes them less expensive. While less effective at saving space, these panels still operate with 13-16% efficiency.

3. Tax Relief and Additional Income Potential

Despite the change in exporting rates, the SEG still allows business owners to gain an additional revenue stream while slashing their electric bills while the 0% VAT policy can help save on purchase costs.

As some suppliers are offering rates similar to the Feed in Tariff (FiT) from 2019, you still have the potential to passively earn hundreds of pounds with your solar panel investment each year. In addition, tax reliefs can make investing in a photovoltaic system even more attractive.

If these advantages are interesting to you, you should consider contacting an installer to see what type of solar technologies your business or home can leverage. Finding a good installer can take days of research, which is why we offer a better way.

Our service can quickly and easily help you obtain up to 4 free, non-binding quotes from reliable companies in your area. They can assess your situation and advise you on the best prices. Click the button below to get started.

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What are the disadvantages of commercial solar installation?

As with most things, commercial solar installation has its disadvantages that are worth keeping in mind.

disadvantages of commercial solar installation

1. High Initial Investment

One of the most prominent disadvantages is the high initial investment cost. When you buy commercial solar panels, you know you’ll see a high return on investment (ROI) eventually, but that can take years.

2. Weather Dependency

All solar panels are weather-dependent, as the photovoltaic effect converts energy from the sun. When there is poor weather with clouds, snowfall or extreme heat, solar panel efficiency will decrease. However, solar panels will still produce energy with indirect sunlight or in the winter months regardless.

Pros & Cons of Solar Panels (Watch this video before you invest)

What are the best commercial solar panel companies?

solar panel companies

There are various factors to consider when choosing the best solar panel companies. Criteria should include the type, power, efficiency, power tolerance, size, and product warranty. It should also be easy to find commercial solar panel installers that carry panels from these companies.

Six of the best commercial solar companies include:

  • LG
  • Sharp
  • Sunpower
  • Panasonic
  • Yingli Solar

It can be overwhelming to compare solar panels across all the available manufacturers in the UK. Luckily, you don’t have to spend days researching and comparing prices. With GreenMatch, getting domestic and commercial solar panels is simple.

By filling in our 30-second form, we’ll connect you with up to 4 different professional solar panel installers who offer both tailored advice and quotes. This way you’re able to compare the different advice and quotes to choose the best deal for you.

This service is completely free and comes with no obligations. Get started with our contact form by clicking the button below.

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FAQ

Rawal Ahmed
Written by Rawal Ahmed , Writer

Rawal Ahmed is a writer at GreenMatch with an interest in sustainability and a background in background in tech journalism and digital marketing.

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