Solar Panels for Businesses in the UK

June 13, 2024
Min Read

Installing solar panels can significantly reduce your monthly energy bills and overall environmental impact.

This guide dives deep into everything you need to know about commercial solar panels, no matter the size of your business. We'll cover the benefits, costs, installation process, and how to get started.

Key Features: 

·      Installing solar panels for your business can significantly reduce your energy costs.
·      Maintenance costs for commercial solar panels are relatively low.
·      Solar panels can contribute to a positive impact on your ESG score.
·      Commercial solar panels can cost £16,000 - £60,000 (20kW to 50kW systems) for small to medium-sized businesses.
·      Commercial solar panels can break even in 4 or 5 years due to their high solar absorption capacities.

Are solar panels right for my business?

If you're looking to cut down on your business's energy bills, solar panels could be a great option. However, it's important to consider the upfront costs, which can range from £16,000 to £70,000 for small to medium-sized businesses. Luckily, financing options like leasing and power purchase agreements (PPAs) are available.

How Many Solar Panels Will I Need?

A detailed consultation with a commercial solar panel expert is the only way to understand which solar panel system will work best for you. Here are some factors to consider:

  1. Your electricity consumption.
  2. The local sunlight yield (daylight hours).
  3. The size and type of your business.
  4. The size of your roof.

Benefits of Solar Panels

Installing solar panels offers multiple benefits for your business. Beyond the financial advantage of reduced electricity bills, solar panels contribute to a lower carbon footprint – a medium-sized business can expect a reduction of 9.9 tonnes of CO2 annually. This positive environmental impact is reflected in a stronger ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) score, a metric that's increasingly important for businesses.

Furthermore, solar panels grant you greater energy independence, potentially reducing your reliance on the national grid for electricity. There's even the opportunity to turn a profit through the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) by selling excess electricity your system generates back to the grid. Finally, solar panels can improve your Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), making your commercial property more attractive to tenants and potentially increasing its value.

What are the best ways to finance commercial solar panels?

The UK government offers several financial incentives to make solar power more cost-effective for businesses:

  1. Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECA): This allows businesses to write off the cost of their solar system in the first year, providing a significant tax break.
  2. Energy Company Obligation (ECO4): Businesses can get grants or vouchers from energy companies to offset installation costs.
  3. Shared Prosperity Fund Low Carbon Project (UKSPF): This programme provides funding to eligible businesses to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.
  4. Smart Export Guarantee (SEG): Earn money by selling any excess electricity your system generates back to the grid.

Which is the best solar panel for my business?

While they come in various shapes, sizes, and price points, the two main types of solar panels are monocrystalline (more efficient but more expensive) and polycrystalline.

Finding the perfect fit depends on your business. For limited roof space, installers recommend high-output panels to maximise the amount of solar energy captured. Conversely, businesses with ample space can install more panels than needed and store excess energy in batteries to sell back to the grid.

The ideal number of panels hinges on several factors, including your budget, but investing time to understand the best solar PV system for your needs ensures you get the most out of your investment from the start.

Additional things to consider:

  1. Upfront costs: Commercial solar panels can be expensive, ranging from £16,000-£70,000 for small to medium businesses.
  2. Break-even period: The average break-even period for commercial solar panels is 4-5 years due to their high solar absorption capacities.
  3. Maintenance costs: Maintenance costs for commercial solar panels are relatively low. They typically need professional inspection every 4-6 years and occasional cleaning to remove dust and debris.
  4. Planning permission: For large-scale commercial solar systems, approval from the local council may be required, considering factors like visual impact and grid connectivity.

Will I Need Planning Permission for Commercial Solar Panels?

Installing solar panels on your non-domestic building or land might be considered "permitted development," meaning you wouldn't need to apply for planning permission from your Local Planning Authority (LPA).

However, there are important conditions to be aware of. It's best to check with your LPA to see if your project qualifies for permitted development. Find out more

Can I claim solar panels as a business expense in the UK?

You can claim solar panels as a business expense through the Annual Investment Allowance (AIA). This allows you to deduct and claim tax reliefs on assets your business needs to buy.

How much do commercial solar panels cost?

The total cost of your commercial solar panel system depends on several factors:

  1. System size: This depends on your energy needs.
  2. Components: Solar panels, inverters, mounting equipment, and installation labour all factor into the total price.

Installation Options

  1. Rooftop Mounted Systems: The most popular choice for businesses with a large, south-facing roof.
  2. Ground-Mounted Systems: Ideal for businesses with limited roof space or unsuitable roof types.

After Installation

After having your solar panels installed, you'll have some options to consider to further optimise your system. One option is to add battery storage. This will allow you to maximise your use of the solar energy you generate and reduce your reliance on the grid by storing excess energy for use at night or on cloudy days. Solar panels require minimal maintenance, but regular cleaning may be needed to maintain optimal performance.

Finally, it's important to find the right installer to ensure a smooth and efficient process. Partner with a reputable MCS-certified installer, who can assess your specific needs, design a customised solar system for your business, and handle the entire installation process.


Benefits of installing Solar PV:

  1. Reduce your electricity bills
  2. Earn money on the electricity that you produce by selling excess energy back to the grid using the Smart Export Guarantee.
  3. Store excess electricity
  4. Lower your carbon footprint
  5. Reduce your reliance on the National Grid

Next steps

If you’re ready to find solar panels for your business, we can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.