Hub Industry insights All you need to know about commercial solar panels All you need to know about commercial solar panels With the world making more and more effort to be ‘green’ these days, it’s no surprise that solar power has become increasingly popular in recent years. 4 September 2023 10 min read As a green initiative, and a means to reduce those ever-rising energy bills, solar panels have become a popular energy-efficient choice for businesses. Along with environmental and financial benefits, commercial solar panels are also a brilliant way for companies to establish themselves as sustainable businesses over their non-green competitors.In short, solar panels – sometimes known as PV or photovoltaic panels – convert sunlight into electrical energy, which can then be used to generate power in your business.Typically, each solar panel generates around 200-350W of energy in strong sunlight, though the cells in the panels don’t need direct sunlight in order to work, and will still generate power on cloudy days.A popular option among businesses is to invest in battery storage to combat the loss of solar energy, which essentially means that your business will have a place to store any excess solar energy generated during the day, so that it’s available for use during darker hours.Another popular option for businesses based in Great Britain is to sell any excess energy to the National Grid, thanks to the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). Not only does this mean that excess energy is converted into cash, it also promotes environmental conservation, since it will be channelled into properties which would have otherwise been using exhaustible forms of energy. Why should my business invest in solar panels? Thousands of UK businesses have now switched to solar panels thanks to the many benefits they offer. With energy costs continuing to fluctuate, putting your roof space to good use can be a wise move in protecting yourself (and your finances!) from unpredictable price hikes.Other benefits of commercial solar panels include: Reduced utility costsEnergy from commercial solar panels will cost significantly less than what you’d pay from a utility company. While saving only a few pence per kWh sounds small, it will add up quickly.In addition to this, the cost of solar panel maintenance in the UK is relatively low, which means you can benefit from reduced overall expenses for your electricity consumption. Better Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)There’s a huge focus on corporate social responsibility these days, and your business’ CSR strategy could mean the difference between a customer choosing you or choosing a competitor. As well as the obvious benefit of being better for the environment, solar panels are also a brilliant demonstration of your business’ commitment to environmental causes, which is positive for both your brand image and customer engagement. Provides a long-term power sourceA typical commercial solar panel system will provide free energy for over 25 years, which in turn will support a healthy ROI for your business. Solar PV can help you to achieve returns of more than 12% per annum, with installation costs being reimbursed within 6-8 years. Improves energy securityHaving solar energy will mean being less reliant on the National Grid, which also means that your business is less vulnerable to power cuts and other outages, as well as having an electricity supply to fall back on if you’ve opted to store your excess energy. How are solar panels installed on commercial properties? There are a few steps to run through before proceeding with the installation of solar panels, and these will vary from business to business depending on the size of the commercial property. As a rough guide, these are the steps you can expect to take prior to the installation: An assessment will need to be made to ensure that your building can structurally support the solar panels. Your energy use, and your goals in terms of renewable energy, will need to be evaluated in order to select the most appropriate panel system. Blueprints and proposals will be drawn up according to the specifications of your business and the commercial building in question. Following the approval of the proposals, the solar panels will need to be constructed and physically installed. The timing for this part can vary – ranging from weeks to months, depending on the size of the project. The final stage is the commissioning phase. During this phase, the company responsible for installing the panels will carry out electrical checks and make sure the solar panels have been fitted correctly. If everything is working as it should, your installer will reach out to your district network operator to get your system connected to the electricity network. Will my business be out of action during solar PV installation? The short answer, in most cases, is no. Occasionally, there may be some exceptions, but in 99% of cases, businesses will be able to stay open and operate as normal during solar PV installation. Is planning permission required for commercial solar power? There are a few rare situations where planning permission is required for the installation of commercial solar panels, such as if your building or property site is officially classified as historical or part of a world heritage site. Otherwise, commercial solar panels don’t require planning permission as they fall under permitted developments. That being said, you’ll still need to meet certain requirements and conditions, which include: Panels need to be kept below 200mm perpendicular protection from the plane of the roof or wall Panels are installed at least 1m from the external edges of the building Panels protrude less than 1m from the roof surface and cannot be placed on the highest part A ground-mounted array is no more than 9m2, no more than 3m in any one direction, and no higher than 4m. It’s also worth noting that, for systems greater than 50 kW, prior approval from the local planning authority will be required. This will evaluate the design and external appearance of the solar panel site; assessing the impact of the glare on occupiers of neighbouring buildings or land. What are the costs of solar PV for businesses? There’s no generic figure when it comes to the cost of solar panels, as it will depend largely on the size and scale of the project. The price will be determined by the size of your commercial building, the level of kilowatt output required, the location of your business, and the company you choose to install the solar panel system. As a rough estimate, commercial solar panels can cost anywhere between £16,000 and £70,000 for small-to-medium sized businesses. You’ll also need to factor in the cost of installation itself and the VAT, which can push the final figure up by thousands. The cost of commercial solar panels (excluding VAT) can be loosely broken down as follows: WattageCost10kW£9,500 + VAT20kW£18,500 + VAT40kW£35,000 + VAT50kW£44,000 + VAT60kW£55,000 + VAT In any case, you’ll need to reach out to an installer who can assess the specifications of your specific projects and provide you with an accurate quote. How DPL Group can help your business DPL’s team of fully qualified engineers has extensive experience in installing solar panels, having serviced some of the largest businesses in East Anglia. Our engineers receive regular re-accreditation by leading industry bodies, and are all qualified to provide a full solar panel service and take care of your project from start to finish; including the design aspects of your project, the complete installation, as well as the maintenance for all the years to come. We’ll work with you to understand the challenges and opportunities within your solar project; tailoring our approach to increase understanding, reduce costs, risk and scope creep. Want to learn more about our solar panel service? The best place to find out all the answers is by looking through our commonly asked questions. If you have any other questions about solar panel installation, or you’d like to book a solar survey, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team.