Rooftop Solar Panels for SMEs

July 12 2018 0comment

Rooftop Solar Panels for SMEs

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If you own a commercial or industrial premises with a flat roof, you may be wondering about whether or not to install solar panels on the roof as a means of saving electricity and reducing your overall operating costs in future.  Solar panel electricity systems are also known as photovoltaics (PV) and they will capture energy from the sun using photovoltaic cells.  The cells don’t need direct sunlight to work effectively, and will still generate a certain amount of electricity on even the cloudiest days.   The cells then convert the sunlight into electricity which can be used to power your electrically powered equipment and machinery.  Any excess electricity generated by the panels can be exported to the electrical grid for use by others. 

Commercial Solar is the terms that refers to systems installed in larger operations in sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing while Business Solar refers to system installed in small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) based in office premises.  A commercial solar panel system with a substantial amount of flat roof space is likely to generate a greater ROI due to the government’s Feed-in-Tariffs (FiTs) which will save businesses money as they generate their own renewable energy.  Some commercial operations have set up small solar farms to make the most of their available roof space and generate extra income from selling the extra electricity they create back to the grid via FiT.

In recent years the cost of solar panels has dropped dramatically due to advancements in technology – the type of solar panels required will depend on the size of the commercial business.  The most popular systems for business have a 5 0 9 kW output. 

If the main purpose of solar panel installation is to provide your business premises with power, they you won’t have to pay tax on any incentives offered through them, so any FiT payments will be tax-free.  The only time that tax is paid on solar panel income is if the solar farm is created with the sole purpose of generating a profit. 

For systems up to 50KWP for electricity and up to 45 kilowatts for thermal, no planning permission is necessary to install solar panels unless your commercial property is also a listed building, in which case planning permission is required. 

When it comes to profitability, how much a commercial or SME can earn from solar panel energy depends entirely on how much sunlight they receive during the day and the size of the system installed.  As a guideline, for smaller businesses, a 4kW system with FiT and electricity savings may add up to a saving/profit of around £16,000 over 20 years.  For larger businesses, a 10kW system may offer returns of up to £2,000 per year while a 50 kW system could deliver up to £10,000 annually in income when installed in the most auspicious conditions – south facing with no shade at all.

A commercial premises featuring rooftop solar panels is likely to require regular rooftop access for maintenance – this can be in the form of a dedicated rooftop walkway to the area where the panels are located, or a rooftop demarcation barrier that prevents access to more dangerous areas of the roof. 

Next week, we’ll take a detailed look at whether or not solar panels are the right choice for your business premises – don’t miss out, follow us on Facebook or Twitter to get notified when the article is published.

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