1. Are solar panels right for my business or building?
There are a variety of considerations when determining whether or not solar panels are right for your building. Some thought must go into how much of the generated electricity you will use as this will affect how economic it is as a solution for you. Solar PV systems generate electricity only during daylight hours, predominantly around the middle of the day.
For businesses with high daytime electricity demands this could be a good option. Also, around 75% of the annual energy from a solar PV system is produced from May-September. You need to consider how much of the generated electricity you will use in your building, based on the pattern of generation from the solar PV system, and the pattern of energy usage for your business.
Without any additional systems, a lot of the generated electricity can be spilled (exported) to the grid, and there is currently no mechanism for generators to claim a payment for this (see question 3.4). You also need to consider if the roof is suitable for solar PV considering the age and condition, the orientation, and any potential shading from nearby trees or buildings.
The best rooftops for maximising electricity generation are those that are south-facing, in good condition and with minimal shading from trees or adjacent structures. Finally, it is worth considering other options to improve the energy performance of your building, such as insulation, boiler upgrade, monitoring systems, or some other renewable generating technology. Speaking to a BER assessor is a good first step.
2. Do I need planning permission to install solar PV on my roof?
Larger solar PV systems in a business or industrial setting will typically require planning permission. Solar PV systems installed in such a setting under 50 sq. m (and representing less than 50% of the total roof area) are exempt from planning. Visit the page on conditional planning exemptions for the full details.
3. What supports are there for solar PV in businesses and other buildings?
Accelerated Capital Allowances: the ACA is a tax incentive aimed at companies paying corporation tax, sole-traders and non-corporates. The scheme allows them to write off 100% of the purchase value of qualifying energy efficient equipment against their profit in the first year of purpose. Solar PV systems can qualify for the scheme provided the model of solar panel is registered on the Triple E Register.
Grants via EXEED: The Excellence in Energy Efficiency Design (EXEED) programme offers grant support to business and industry for energy improvements and can encompass grant support for solar PV systems. More detail can be found on the EXEED webpage.
4. Is there a ‘feed-in tariff’ payment for excess solar electricity fed into the grid by owners of solar PV systems?
There is currently no obligation for energy suppliers to pay their customers for the electricity they generate with their solar panels (sometimes known as a ‘Feed-in-tariff’). It is up to energy suppliers to decide whether they wish to offer such a scheme to customers.