In the past few weeks, solar power has been contributing as much as 35% of the UK’s total energy mix. And while this may seem believable during the recent bout of lovely sunny weather, there’s still a misconception that solar is only viable for summer generation. This is one of the several common myths that crop up time after time when talking to businesses. Here, I look to separate fact from fiction, to set the record straight.
1. Solar is only suitable for large businesses (or roofs)
Many medium-sized companies dismiss solar, believing it’s only viable for larger businesses with large roof spaces. But while organisations with a good amount of south-facing roof space are ideal – for example, distribution centres, manufacturing plants or larger retail properties – businesses of any size with other available space can also successfully utilise solar. For example, you may have a large area of adjacent land or a car park where ground-mounted solar or solar canopies could be installed. We can even install solar on water. This makes solar PV suitable for organisations of any size with the right space (and we’d be happy to discuss this with you if you’re unsure).
2. Solar requires an expensive initial outlay
Solar can be a surprisingly cost-effective investment, delivering carbon-free power to your business as soon as an array is installed. But where upfront capital funding isn’t available, it’s possible to opt instead for a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). Here, an experienced third party such as nBS , funds, installs and manages your solar asset on your behalf. Your business then uses all the energy generated, and pays an agreed price per kilowatt to nBS, PPA, so enabling you to benefit from lower-cost carbon-free energy.
3. Solar PV can only be installed on buildings you own
It’s possible to still benefit from solar, even if you don’t own the building your business operates from. It may be possible for tenants to negotiate with landlords to add solar structures to their premises, so that they can self-generated power. Such agreements can form part of the overall - so it’s worth looking to see what can be arranged.
4. Solar is no longer popular without government subsidies
While many believed the closure of the government’s Feed-in-Tariff to new participants in 2019 would be the end of the solar industry, this hasn’t occurred at all. Manufacturing costs have come down considerably to allow Solar PV installations to stand alone and deliver real commercial value and profitability without having to rely on subsidies. Indeed, market research from Solar Media in March 2021 showed that residential and commercial rooftop installations were up 14% year-on-year. And a survey we conducted last month showed that 78% of businesses are either considering, or have already committed to, investing in solar PV.
5. Solar PV only generates on sunny days
There’s a common view that solar isn’t worth investing in because the UK weather is so unpredictable, with lousy summers and cloudy days commonplace. But solar technologies have evolved considerably over recent years, meaning an array can now produce effective yields even on a cloudy day or under partial shading conditions. It can also be easily combined with storage to provide continuous supply, meaning that solar can be used for critical infrastructure that need to operate 24/7, such as data centres or hospitals.
To find out more, download our report - ‘Plot Your Path to Net Zero - A Focus on Solar PV’ - discover more here.
Graham currently works in the I&C Solutions division, where alongside his day-to-day client management role, he provides support across the business around developing and advising on solar PV projects. He joined nBS’s parent company E.ON three years ago after a successful career working in the solar arena since its implementation in the UK, in roles including managing director and head of sales, marketing and operations, covering all aspects of a solar in diverse sectors with multiple clients.