Commercial Solar Panels

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Last updated: 17 December 2020

Why Use Solar Panels for Businesses?

Did you know that solar panels can reduce your business’ environmental footprint and save you money every year? 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. The energy produced by solar panels immediately flows out, unless you pair your solar array with a solar battery storage system.

One of the key benefits is the substantial cost savings — even small businesses can save hundreds of pounds each year.

Over the 25-year lifetime of solar panels, this equates to thousands of pounds. If you operate industrial solar panels, you can sell excess energy to utility companies for a profit.

The benefits of solar panels for business go beyond practicality and saving money. By switching to commercial solar panels, you are also lowering your business’ carbon footprint.

This is based on the amount of greenhouse gases produced by your actions. Solar energy is renewable and carbon neutral. Switching would indicate your business’s commitment to green and sustainable practices.

If you are ready to make the switch to commercial solar panels for your business, GreenMatch can help you compare the best offers on the market. Fill in our form to receive up to four quotes from installers in your area. Our service is free and non-binding.

How Much Do Commercial Solar Panels Cost?

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

Begin by evaluating the cost to determine if solar panels are a feasible option for your business. To identify how much energy your company uses each month, take a closer look at your utility bill. It should indicate how much energy you use each month and how much the utility company charges you per kW.

Most small to medium-sized businesses use 30,000-50,000 kWh of electricity each year. Depending on where in the UK your business is located, your system size, and subsequently the costs, will differ.

A good rule of thumb with larger systems is to calculate approximately £1,000 per kW, plus VAT.

If you operate a very small business, you could get a price estimate by comparing the cost of domestic solar panels.

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

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

Commercial Solar Panel Prices
System size Average cost
10 kW £9,500 + VAT
20 kW £18,200 + VAT
40 kW £35,000 + VAT
50 kW £44,000 + VAT
60 kW £51,000 + VAT
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What Are the Installation Costs?

When installing a solar panel system for your business, the main thing you are paying for is the panels and the inverters.

If you are installing a very large solar panel system, the installation costs may rise slightly if it takes a significant amount of 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.

Once the initial installation costs are covered, though, there are very little additional costs.

Do You Need Planning Permissions?

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

Always ask before signing any contracts, so you know what to expect.

If your building or property site is designated as historical or part of a world heritage site, you will need to acquire permission.

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.

The installation of solar panels is the most complicated part of the process. 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 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.

Installing Solar Panels for Businesses

Grants for Solar Panels on Commercial Buildings

Currently, the United Kingdom does not offer government grants for solar panels on commercial buildings.

Applications for the Feed-in Tariff scheme closed in March of 2019. However, new funding opportunities may arise as the UK works toward lowering emissions and reducing fossil fuel reliance.

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. 

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 for them to mimic wholesale and market prices. This could equate to a sizable profit from the excess energy exported from your solar panels.

What Are the 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

Solar Panels Lower Your Utility Costs

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

Additionally, 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

Solar Panels Are Efficient for 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 material 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.

Thin-film solar panels are another popular option that requires even less material. These panels are the cheapest to manufacture, but they also have low energy efficiency, requiring the most space.

When evaluating commercial solar panel efficiency, remember to examine the materials used in manufacturing.

3. Tax Relief and Additional Income Potential

Commercial Solar Panels Offer Tax Relief

The added income potential is a major benefit of solar panels for businesses. Despite the change in exporting rates, the SEG still allows business owners to gain an additional revenue stream while slashing their electric bills.

As some suppliers are offering rates similar to FIT, 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.

What Are the Main Disadvantages?

As with most things, commercial solar installation has its disadvantages. While drawbacks can arise due to the solar panel installation companies, the shortcomings addressed below relate to commercial solar PV systems in general.

1. High Initial Investment

High Initial Cost for Solar Panels

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), but that can take years. In the meantime, you’ll be responsible for the out-of-pocket expenses.

However, it’s valuable to know that solar panels for business premises typically break-even much sooner than residential systems because of their ability to generate much more power.

2. Weather Dependency

Solar Panels Are Weather Dependent

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, the solar panel efficiency will decrease.

This disadvantage can make your energy conversion inconsistent during certain times of the year. However, solar panels will still produce energy with indirect sunlight or in the winter months, so they will still work.

What Are the Best 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.

After examining the details, six of the best companies include:

LG Logo
Sunpower Logo
Panasonic Logo
Yinli Logo
Amerisolar Logo
Sharp Logo

 

FAQs about Industrial Solar Panels

Most businesses offer a 20-25 year warranty on solar panels, but some industrial solar panels can last much longer if well-maintained.

When installed by professionals, commercial solar PV panels will not cause roof damage.

For safety reasons, the grid may shut down for repairs, but having a solar battery storage system ensures you can use your solar energy during power outages.

If you are interested in installing commercial solar panels, GreenMatch can help you compare the best offers on the market. Simply fill in the contact form and we will provide you with up to four quotes. Our service isn't binding and completely free of charge.

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Written by Emily Folk Guest Contributor Emily is a freelance environmental writer who writes on renewable energy, green technology and sustainability. To read more of her writing, you can visit her blog, Conservation Folks, or follow her on Twitter @EmilySFolk
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