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Commercial Solar Panels: A Smart Investment for Businesses

Cost and Savings


For small to medium-sized businesses, the cost of installing commercial solar panels typically ranges from £16,000 to £60,000 for 20kW to 50kW systems. These systems usually break even within 4 to 5 years due to their high solar absorption efficiency. Leading brands for larger solar arrays include LG, Sharp, SunPower, Panasonic, and Yingli Solar.


a shop worker using electricity
Commercial Solar Panels

Benefits of Solar Panels for Businesses


Investing in solar panels offers several significant advantages:


1. Cost Reduction: Over their 25-year lifespan, solar panels can result in savings of thousands of pounds. For instance, a 20kW system can save a business over £3,000 annually on electricity bills. This substantial cost reduction improves profitability.


2. Energy Independence: Solar panels provide a buffer against fluctuating electricity prices and can serve as a backup during power outages, especially when paired with a solar battery. This enhances operational stability and security.


3. Revenue Generation: Businesses can generate additional income by selling excess energy back to utility companies through schemes like the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), creating a new revenue stream.


4. Environmental Impact: Adopting solar energy reduces your carbon footprint, demonstrating your commitment to sustainability. This can enhance your company’s reputation and appeal to environmentally conscious customers.


Installation Costs


The primary expenses for a solar panel system include the panels and inverters. For a 10kW system, installation costs are approximately £2,000 (excluding VAT), though this varies based on system size and brand. High-end brands like SunPower may be more expensive, while more affordable options are available from Chinese manufacturers. Installation costs may increase for larger systems due to the need for more labour and time.


Planning Permissions


In some cases, planning permissions are required, especially for buildings with flat roofs or those in conservation areas. It’s best to verify this with your installer before proceeding. Reliable installers often assist with obtaining these permissions to ensure compliance with local regulations. Always confirm before signing any contracts to understand what to expect.


Maintenance Costs


Maintenance for solar panels is minimal, typically involving professional inspections every four to six years and regular cleaning to maintain efficiency. High installations might require professional cleaning services, costing around £9.50 per panel annually. Regular maintenance ensures maximum efficiency and longevity of the panels.


Incentives and Grants


While direct government grants for commercial solar panels are not available, the UK applies a 0% VAT policy on solar technology, reducing initial costs. The SEG allows businesses to earn by exporting surplus energy back to the grid. Public sector organisations may benefit from interest-free capital through schemes like Salix Funding, supporting energy-efficient technologies.


Benefits of Using Solar Panels for Businesses


Switching to solar panels for your business can lead to numerous benefits:


1. Reduced Utility Costs: Energy from commercial solar PV panels costs a fraction of what you pay to a utility company. Even small savings per kWh add up quickly, significantly reducing overall expenses for electricity consumption.


2. Efficient Energy Production: Commercial solar panels can enhance operational efficiency. Standard efficiency levels are 15-20%, but can reach up to 42%. Monocrystalline panels, made from a single silicon piece, are the most efficient but also the most expensive. Polycrystalline panels, made from multiple silicon pieces, are less costly but still offer 13-16% efficiency.


3. Tax Relief and Income Potential: Despite changes in export rates, the SEG allows business owners to earn additional revenue while cutting electricity bills. The 0% VAT policy further reduces purchase costs. Some suppliers offer rates similar to the old Feed-in Tariff (FiT), allowing businesses to earn hundreds of pounds annually. Tax reliefs make photovoltaic systems even more attractive investments.



a business meeting
Evaluating Commercial Solar Panels


Evaluating Commercial Solar Panels


Cost Analysis


For small to medium-sized businesses, the cost of commercial solar panels ranges from £16,000 to £70,000, influenced by factors such as roof size, energy production needs, and the number of panels. Businesses typically use 30,000-50,000kWh of electricity annually, and costs vary depending on location, system size, and cost per kW.


Cost Breakdown (excluding VAT):


• 10kW: £13,000 - £15,000, Break-even: 5-6 years

• 20kW: £16,000 - £30,000, Break-even: 4-5 years

• 50kW: £33,000 - £60,000, Break-even: 3-6 years

• 60kW: £39,000 - £75,000, Break-even: 3-5 years

• 80kW: £50,000 - £100,000, Break-even: 3-6 years

• 100kW: £60,000 - £120,000, Break-even: 2-5 years


For scale, a 15kW system should suffice for a small UK business, using 39kWh to 60kWh daily. Average usage is between 41kWh and 68kWh. Businesses can estimate costs by comparing installation and solar battery prices in the UK. Tax relief might apply, except for revenue-generating solar farms.


Installation Costs


Key expenses include panels and inverters. Larger systems incur higher costs due to increased labour and time. An estimated cost is 0.2p per Watt fitted, approximately £2,000 (excluding VAT) for a 10kW system. Costs vary by brand, with premium brands like SunPower costing more, while Chinese brands offer cheaper alternatives. Once installed, additional costs are minimal unless solar batteries are added.


Planning Permissions


Certain situations require planning permissions, especially for flat roofs or heritage sites. Reliable installers often handle these permissions. Always confirm before signing contracts. If your property is in a conservation area, consult our comprehensive guide or a professional installer.


Maintenance Costs


Solar panels have low maintenance costs. Regular light cleaning and professional inspections every four to six years are typically sufficient. High installations may require professional cleaners, costing about £9.50 per panel annually.


Grants and Incentives


While the UK lacks direct grants for commercial solar panels, the 0% VAT policy and the SEG provide financial benefits. The SEG allows businesses to export excess energy back to the grid for financial gain. Public sector organisations may access interest-free capital through Salix Funding for energy-efficient technologies.


Financial Savings


The SEG sets flexible or fixed rates for energy suppliers, offering businesses a potential profit from excess energy. Earning rates in 2024 range from 5p to 15p per kWh, depending on the provider.


Assessing the Right Solar Panel System for Your Business


Evaluate Your Energy Needs


Start by assessing your utility bill to determine monthly energy usage and costs. Compare this with potential savings and the break-even timeline for different system sizes.


Benefits and Drawbacks of Commercial Solar Installation


Advantages


1. Reduced Utility Costs: Significant savings on electricity bills.


2. Efficient Energy Production: High efficiency levels, especially with monocrystalline panels.


3. Tax Relief and Additional Income: Potential income from exporting excess energy and savings from tax reliefs.


Disadvantages


1. High Initial Investment: Significant upfront costs, though ROI is achieved over time.


2. Weather Dependency: Solar panels’ efficiency can be affected by poor weather, though they still produce energy in indirect sunlight and winter months.


Conclusion


Investing in commercial solar panels offers a multitude of benefits for businesses, both large and small. The substantial cost savings, energy independence, and potential for additional revenue make solar energy an attractive option. While the initial investment may be significant, the long-term financial and environmental rewards are well worth it. Furthermore, the minimal maintenance requirements and potential tax reliefs add to the overall value.


By harnessing solar power, businesses can not only reduce their operational costs but also demonstrate a commitment to sustainability, enhancing their reputation and appeal to environmentally conscious customers. With our service, you can effortlessly compare multiple quotes from reliable local installers, ensuring you get the best deal and support throughout the installation process.


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