Are solar rooftops secret goldmines for business?

 Rooftops will no longer be the sole domain of cat burglars and romantic téte a tétes – they’re also about to become a solar energy goldmine. At least, that’s the […]

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By Vicky Ellis

 Rooftops will no longer be the sole domain of cat burglars and romantic téte a tétes – they’re also about to become a solar energy goldmine.

At least, that’s the hope of ministers who today brought out the Government’s first ever solar strategy with plans to slap solar panels on thousands of government buildings, factories and schools.

From Bentley’s to Jaguar Land Rover, car manufacturers in Britain have already revved their engines in favour of solar. Transport hubs like King’s Cross in London have panels too.

There are an estimated 250,000 hectares of south facing commercial roofs in the UK. Solar panels can shave as much as 20% off a business energy bill.

Solar experts reckon every commercial rooftop in the UK could have solar panels installed by 2018 and today’s news shines a light on a growing business trend.

Chris Roberts, Head of Renewable Power Products at Mark Group said: “A business with a roof space of 1100m2 could install a 100kW solar PV system, generating an income of £19,136 a year. for their business, giving them a whole new revenue stream.

“Commercial rooftops can often accommodate large solar systems without the need to use green fields. Helping business make their existing assets work harder – effectively adding another floor to their business – solar is a long term proposition helping to give them a competitive edge.”

Nick Boyle, CEO for Lightsource Renewable Energy said: “Not only is it environmentally sound for businesses to have PV systems installed on the rooftops, it also makes good business sense as they’ll significantly reduce their overall expenditure on energy.”

Jerry Hamilton, Director of Renewables & Energy Solutions expects the strategy will spread the solar good news: “With more homeowners, schools and businesses installing PV on their roofs, we create ambassadors for more efficient and sustainable energy usage, ultimately helping our overall aim of reaching our carbon reduction targets in the UK.”

Juliet Davenport, CEO of supplier Good Energy said: “Roof-top solar certainly has a place alongside ground-mounted solar and wind to support home grown energy in the UK. We think the pick-up has been fantastic to date and look forward to seeing more rooftops covered with solar panels.”

The Government’s strategy states that boosting commercial solar is “vital” to its ambitions for solar PV.

It points to sectors like retail, transport and agriculture for “some excellent progress” in generating their own electricity, adding: “Further large-scale roof-mounted projects are continuing to come forward.”

DECC has recognised there are barriers to commercial projects – such as complex rent agreements in the retail sector or planning permission obstacles – and said it is working with the property sector and financiers to find ways around this.

These issues will remain a sticky point for the time being – along with the need for the best solar technology suited to each project – but with the aid of an ambitious government strategy it’s clear the solar sector means business.