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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - SOLAR ENERGY

How does it work?

Solar panels convert sunlight directly into electricity that can be used in your business, home, farm, outbuildings or sent directly back to the National Grid. Solar (photovoltaic) cells generate energy even when it is overcast and cloudy as they absorb scattered light.

Why install solar panels?

Solar panels produce clean, emission free energy from a sustainable source. This generated electricity can help power your business, home, farm or commercial buildings and will reduce carbon emissions. Solar panels are ideal for urban and rural locations, requiring a south or near south facing roof or ground area. They are easily connected to a building’s electricity supply.

Is VAT payable?

Commercial buildings will pay standard VAT rates at 20%.

How are solar PV panels fitted?

Panels can be mounted on a roof or ground mounted. The panels produce Direct Current (DC) electricity, so an inverter will be fitted near the installation to change the DC into Alternating Current (AC) as used in the building. For systems with multiple inverters, a separate area dedicated to the inverters and electrical controls may be required, this could be in a separate building or loft area.

How many are needed?

Any number of PV panels can be connected based on available space, to provide as much electricity output as required. A standard 50kWp solar panel installation will generate up to 43,000 kWh per year.

Is my building suitable?

The optimum orientation for solar panels is due south at a 30 degree latitude tilt in the UK. Systems facing East of West will lose efficiency but are still viable. Farm and commercial buildings are often installed on 15 degree pitch roof areas. If you have a flat roof, we can provide a bespoke flat roof system to optimise the panel angles.

Does my building have to be energy efficient?

Yes, generally all buildings have to have an energy performance rating (EPC) of level D or above or an exemption letter stating that an EPC can not be carried out on the building.

Will it supply all my electricity?

No, the electricity generated during the day is not stored for night use, although battery backup technology is currently in development. However, the income from the FiT could cover all of the electricity bill depending on size of system and consumption.

What size system do I need?

This depends on your budget, available roof space (unless ground mounted), energy output required and DNO approval. We will prepare a full system recommendation.

What maintenance is required?

Minimum maintenance is required for the solar panels as there are no moving parts, although they do need checking for visible damage and shading on a regular basis. We recommend that systems are monitored so that any drop in performance is quickly reacted to. We provide monitoring equipment for commercial systems.

How much do they cost?

The price will vary depending on the size of individual installations. Please contact us to discuss your project in more detail.

Is Planning Permission required?

Domestic and commercial properties do not usually require planning on standard installations as they are considered Permitted Development. Ground Mounted systems, and those installations in Conservation Areas, Listed Buildings and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or World Heritage Areas must consult local Planning Departments. Roof mounted installations above 50Kw may also require planning consent.

Are there any minimal structural requirements?

We will assess the suitability of roof or ground area and may recommend a full structural assessment by a qualifiesd surveyor. The roof must be in good condition as the solar PV array is designed to last 25+ years. Any roof repairs should be carried out before installation of the solar array.

Do solar PV panels need sun?

Generally temperatures above room temperature reduce the efficiency of pv solar panels, making the UK a good climate for photovoltaic technology. The panels require ambient light rather than direct sunlight to generate electricity so they work even on overcast days.

Why is the Government encouraging Solar PV?

The Government is required, alongside other European countries, to reduce carbon emissions and to secure against future oil supplies. The UK currently produces 5.5% of electricity from renewable energy and has committed to increase this to 15% by 2020.

Can solar PV become a leading renewable source?

Yes, for many reasons: