Benefits of Installing Solar Panels on Warehouse Roofs
Let’s be honest. How often have you thought about what your warehouse roof is doing? Probably not very often and probably not much beyond basic maintenance.
But your warehouse roof could be one of your greatest, untapped assets. This often neglected part of your building is the ideal space for hosting a commercial solar panel system, with no disruption to your day-to-day activities. In fact, harnessing the unused roof space of the 20 largest warehouses in the UK could provide 75m sq metres of land to host solar panel systems.
Not convinced? Read on to discover how installing solar panels on your warehouse roofs can not only cut your energy bills today but also future-proof your business.
Why Should You Invest in Solar PV?
Electricity costs in the UK have skyrocketed over recent years, and the trend is set to continue. In the past 12 months alone, wholesale non-domestic electricity costs have increased by 45% to 18.64p per kWh, resulting in a retail price in excess of 30p/kWh. So, at the very least, investing in solar PV, with an equivalent cost to generate of 5-6p/kWh will stem the impact of rising energy costs on your warehouse. But there are many more compelling reasons to consider installing a solar power system.
For a typical warehouse, electricity can account for around 15% of a non-refrigerated warehouse’s operating costs, and for a refrigerated warehouse, that figure shoots up to a frightening 60%. Typical commercial and industrial solar PV systems will cover between 20-50% of your businesses annual electricity needs – factors such as roof space and size of electricity demand are the key determining factors. With a well designed solar PV system you’ll be making substantial savings on your electricity costs and consequently, your business’s overall bottom line.
The Carbon Trust suggests that even a 20% cut in energy costs can have the same benefit to your business as a 5% increase in sales.
From a financial point of view with an industrial solar system, you’re reducing the effect of market fluctuations on supply prices. You’ll effectively be locking your solar generated electricity rate to a set price of around 5-6/kWh, today, which helps to future-proof your business against ever-stringent energy regulations. Your CFO will probably thank you for making it easier for them to complete their financial forecasts!
Energy security gives you peace of mind that your business can continue to function uninterrupted, even if there are fluctuations in National Grid supply.
Aside from the financial benefit, reducing your reliance on the National Grid gives you a buffer in the event of a power outage. Through the use of a solar battery system, you can store any unused electricity to shield your business from downtime if there’s a blackout.
UK businesses are facing more and more energy regulations, such as the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES). Under the MEES, commercial buildings must achieve a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band rating of E, before they can be rented out. The minimum rating is set to increase to C by 2027 and B by 2030.
Installation of solar panels can substantially improve your EPC rating, putting it in a good position to comply with the regulations both today and in the future. There’s no doubt that energy efficiency is becoming an increasingly important aspect of buildings and hence, has a significant impact on your property’s value and how sellable it is.
Corporate Social Responsibility
From governments to consumers, absolutely everyone has their eye on how businesses are reducing their environmental impact. Corporate Social Responsibility is more than a hot topic. It’s a fundamental aspect of doing business as sustainability increasingly becomes the deciding factor in consumer purchase decisions.
Not only do solar panels provide a clean energy source and reduce your business’s reliance on fossil fuels, but they can also show consumers and investors that you are actively offsetting carbon emissions from your day-to-day operations. It’s no secret that warehouses and manufacturing businesses can have a substantial carbon footprint.
Can You Put Solar Panels on a Warehouse Roof?
A typical warehouse roof is an ideal spot for installing a solar power system. The roof has a large surface area and it’s high enough off the ground that shade won’t cause a problem for your panels. They’re also out of the way and shouldn’t have too much impact on your normal operations.
Will You Need Planning Permission?
In general, you won’t need full planning permission to install solar panels on your warehouse roof, provided they meet certain criteria:
- The solar panels cannot protrude by more than 200mm from the roof’s surface;
- For a flat-roof installation, the solar panels must be installed less than 1m from the highest point of the roof;
- The solar panel installation must be more than 1m away from the edge of the roof or wall joint. They cannot extend beyond the lip of the roof; and
- If your warehouse is located in a specially-designated area like an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, then the solar panels cannot be road-facing.
There are certain cases when you will need planning permission to install roof-mounted solar panels, such as if your warehouse is running from a site of historical interest like a listed building. If the proposed system is over a certain size, then a prioe notice planning application is required.
Different rules apply to ground-mounted systems. Small systems can be constructed under the “permitted development” rights, without the need to apply for planning permission. Larger systems that are over 9m sq do require planning permission.
What Types of Roofs Cannot Have Solar Panels?
The ideal roofs for solar panels are flat or shallow-pitched roofs.
Warehouses with steeply inclined roofs are not great candidates for solar panels. The steep pitch makes it difficult to install solar panels and they won’t catch enough light during peak sun hours. In some cases, particularly with low pitched north-facing roofs it can make good commercial sense to install on the north-facing elevation.
Examples From Our Previous Clients (Case Studies)
Here at MyPower, we’ve been supplying and installing solar panels for over 10 years and clients, like Walsh Mushrooms, trust us to partner with them throughout their renewable energy journey.
Walsh Mushrooms supplies mushrooms to UK supermarkets. In 2015, MyPower helped Walsh Mushrooms to improve its energy efficiency through the installation of a 426.81 kW solar system. This was the equivalent forward purchase price of 8.35M units of electricity over 25 years.
The system generates 362,473 kWh of electricity per year. Making the assumption that 95% of the generated electricity would be used on-site, it was projected that Walsh Mushrooms would generate first-year income and savings of £49,376 and achieve a 20.6% return on the invested capital (before capital allowance benefits).
In reality, the system exceeds the initial projections and generates an average of 7.6% more electricity per year than predicted.
For more inspiration, take a look at some of our client case studies.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost for Warehouses?
The cost of a warehouse solar panel installation is determined by a number of factors:
- The size of the installation;
- Where the solar panels will be located; and
- The type of solar panels.
As every business is unique, the only way to know how much a solar panel installation will cost is by getting a quote from a reputable solar panel provider.
Solar Energy Solutions From MyPower
In short, turning your unused warehouse roof into a solar energy powerhouse is a no-brainer. It goes far beyond a cost-saving exercise – it’s an investment that will safeguard your business for years to come.
To harness the full potential of industrial solar panels, you need a trusted partner who can support you through the entire process – from design to installation, and beyond. Get in touch with us at MyPower to find out how you can unleash your solar potential today.