There are many benefits to generating solar power for your business; cost savings, a reduced carbon footprint and reliable electricity provision, to name a few. But before you invest in a solar photovoltaic system (AKA a solar PV system), it is important to consider where you will place the panels. There are two main ways to set them up.
You’ve probably already seen agricultural buildings with solar panels covering their roofs, whether that’s private housing, warehouses or barns.
Opting for a roof mount is a great way to save on ground space. Even if you do have extensive land on which to place panels, many of our clients find roof mounts are a tidy and convenient place for their solar PV system. While solar panels are extremely hardy, a roof mount even further reduces the risk of impact from debris that may be displaced during lawn maintenance or other ground work.
Solar panels can be mounted to almost any type of building and material. The main things that could affect this are the roof’s age and condition. We will also need to consult on the roof’s size, pitch and exposure to the sun to ensure the best results. Different methods can be used depending on various factors, but the most common way to mount solar panels involves drilling into the rafters.
Solar PV systems are a ‘permitted development’, meaning you don’t need planning permission to add them unless your property is listed, though there are a few conditions to meet for non-domestic buildings.
Another option is to place your solar panels on the ground. One advantage here is size – if you have land that’s not being used or could be used more efficiently, why not give it over to electricity generation? For some commercial customers, this will be a larger area than any building they have. Ground mounts give you the flexibility to easily extend your solar PV system in the future.
There are other benefits, too: ground mounts are more flexible, meaning that solar panels can be titled to ensure maximum exposure to the sun; they have more air flow around them, which can improve efficiency; and they are easier to access for maintenance or washing.
Where you end up placing your solar panels will depend on your specific site and needs, but these case studies will help you get an idea of what the different options look like in practice.
P.J. Yates Ltd Dairy Farm
This roof mount project saw Mypower install 102 solar panels on top of a farm building. The panels will produce 34,000 kWh of electricity per year, around 75% of which will be consumed onsite, saving the owners £4,500 annually.
Leeways Packaging Services Ltd
Following a detailed site survey and design proposal, Mypower installed 1,742 solar panels next to this packaging company’s headquarters via ground mounts. They are set to generate 25% of the company’s power and lead to £3 million in electricity cost savings during their 25-year warranty period.
Goodridge Business Park
The owner of a group of commercial units was seeking to make their site more attractive to potential tenants by improving its eco-credentials. While a roof mount was the only option, there were several challenges to overcome, such as the age of the roof, limited access, existing fragile skylights, and a local seagull population causing issues with bird guano and nesting.
Mypower found workarounds to all of these, including construction of an access and fall-safe system, and installation of a SolarEdge inverter and optimiser to limit the impact of nesting and guano to a pair of panels.
Following an onsite survey of the site’s land and buildings, Mypower recommended a 50kW solar PV ground mount for this farm. These were placed in a small paddock grazed by sheep, where they would not be an eyesore. Installation took just five days, and the panels were already outperforming expectations after a year.
Daylesford Farm Shops
Daylesford has high electricity costs due to its cold storage and food production units. Mypower’s installation of a 108 kWp solar PV system on its new building will not only save £480,000 over 25 years, but will also harness waste heat energy from the back of refrigeration units to be recycled into hot water, further boosting the company’s green credentials.