How Can Solar Electricity Benefit Rural Businesses?
Solar PV derived electricity is without doubt a fantastic opportunity for UK businesses of all sizes and locations and much focus is on reducing emissions is in cities and towns. However, it’s also rural companies that can see the benefits of solar PV offers and significantly reduce their contribution to climate change. Though much attention has been paid to reducing carbon emissions in big cities and improving the efficiency of their buildings, rural and agricultural operations stand to benefit too, both environmentally and financially. Here’s how.
Though coverage varies across the country, a rural business may find solar energy cheaper and cleaner than grid access. Though each business will have unique needs to consider, some may find it makes more sense to invest in solar PV technology upfront, which can be installed once relatively easily, and requires only intermittent maintenance over the lifetime of the panels. Compared to the trouble of negotiating grid access, some rural properties may prefer to go off-grid and rely instead on a decentralized power system, and find that this route ultimately gives them more control over the energy they generate and use.
Though solar energy has impressive environmental benefits, no business owner can afford to ignore the obvious financial savings to be made from installing solar panels on their premises. Though the upfront cost of installation can look high, most businesses find they can pay this off within a period of around 5 years – and with many regional grants available, payback can be even shorter.
When spread out over the lifetime of the solar panels, the costs amount to around 5p per unit electricity, which is substantially lower than the average of 15p when bought from the national grid. The 5p estimate even includes the ongoing cost of maintenance and operations, so this is yet a further indirect saving. Add to this the fact that grid energy prices are also liable to rise in future years whilst solar power costs won’t, and the return on investment is impressive.
If you’re balking at the size of the initial investment, you may be pleased to know that there are several rural energy initiatives and government grants designed to bring funding to rural communities and support their upgrade to renewable energy solutions. The FiT subsidy unfortunately ended in March 2019, but there are other opportunities for small and medium businesses who need a little help accessing the many benefits of solar PV. There are application criteria for these grants but receiving funding of this kind means that solar power is well within your reach.
Better for the environment
Solar panels for business are a clean, unobtrusive and eco-conscious way of providing renewable energy for your business operations, no matter your industry. The panels themselves are largely inconspicuous and, with no few moving parts, require only minimal maintenance to keep them in good working order. Whether placed on a roof or other surface likely to receive sunlight, they’re quiet and create no pollution, allowing them to slot into rural community life with very little fuss.
The climate emergency doesn’t just play out on a global level, but impacts ordinary people on a smaller, local scale. Solar panels in more rural locations empower even smaller operations to expand and better serve their communities, all whilst knowing they’re doing their part to protect the environment. The boost in your company’s green reputation can also go a long way to indirectly improving your position in a competitive market.
Long term return on investment
By setting up your rural business or farm to run on solar power, you are not only dramatically reducing running costs, but ensuring that the property itself will remain attractive to potential future buyers should you decide to sell. You reduce your carbon footprint while being able to plan in detail your likely future outputs. With solar panels having a warranted lifespan of 25 years, and payback kicking in at an average of 5 or 6 years, the return on investment is very attractive.
A good solar PV system is robust and comes with a long warranty, and solar panel technology has improved to such an extent that you can feel fairly confident in their performance for many decades to come. Perhaps one of the most exciting prospects of switching to solar is the possibility of selling excess energy back to the grid and helping supply other businesses and homes with clean renewable energy.