Solar PV systems provide a business with a wealth of benefits. The systems can come in two different kinds, solar electric and solar thermal. Solar electric panels work by using photovoltaic cells made up of one or two layers of semiconductors which are usually silicon. When the daylight reaches the cells it will produce an electric field among the two layers and this is what prompts the electric current. Solar thermal is when water is pumped through the panel and is heated by the solar cells. The water is then stored in a hot water tank and can remain hot for up to twenty four hours.
Fortunately, solar panels do not require bright sunlight for them to work, only daylight, though the greater the light intensity, the better they will perform. Solar cells come in many different sizes and types and can be grey to mimic conventional roof tiles or blue in colour. The type of system installed will depend on how much roof space you have available and your current energy usage.
Solar PV should be viewed by the purchaser as a business investment. Although they will generally not produce enough to cover all your electricity or hot water needs, they can dramatically slash your overheads. This will further serve to protect the business from the rising costs of fuel and electricity. At the same time, the panels will send out a positive image of your business to the local community and your customers. They will show you are concerned about the environmental impact your business has and will serve to demonstrate that you are doing something positive about it.
Additionally, you can also be paid money from the government’s Feed in Tariff scheme. Businesses could potentially earn the equivalent of an eight per cent return on the investment and higher tax payers can expect a thirteen per cent return. Changes to the Feed in Tariff have already occurred and rates are expected to be lowered again later this year. To keep an eye on the changes, direct.gov and the Energy Saving Trust website always display the current tariff available.
To work at their most efficient, solar PV systems should be placed facing south or south to south east. When installed at a pitch they work better so are ideal for conventional sloping roofs. They can also be installed on flat roofs when mounted on A frames. The intended site should have a good means of access for the purposes of fitting and maintenance and be substantial enough to support the panels for up to twenty five years, the length of time they are guaranteed to last. This also falls in line with guaranteed payments from the Feed in Tariff scheme.
Choosing a Supplier for a Business
To qualify for payments from the Feed in Tariff scheme, you will need to choose an installer that has up to date certification from MCS. To find providers in your area, the MCS website keeps a list of up to date certified installers. The company that you choose to install the panels will need to have experience with the installation of sources of renewable energy, preferably for business use. An initial, no obligation assessment should be able to determine if your premises is suitable for an installation.
It is recommended that you get a number of different quotes from different local companies before committing yourself to one as payments may vary slightly. The company chosen should be able to recommend what type and size of system would best benefit your business based on the space you have available and your energy usage. They should also be able to say how much power the solar panels will generate. Any company that cannot answer your questions clearly in a manner that you can understand may not have the necessary expertise in renewable energy and should be avoided.
Author: Ian Wright writes for The Eco Experts which provides information for those who want to install solar panels in the UK. If you’d like to learn more about using solar panels for business have a look at The Eco Experts guide to commercial solar panel installation.
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