Empowering SMEs: solar energy for business success.

E.ON Next blog SME Solar

For UK Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), solar power could be an essential way to reduce operational expenses and embrace sustainability. By installing solar panels, your business can soon be generating its own electricity, leading to savings on energy bills. As solar technology advances and costs reduce, solar power is increasingly becoming a very practical and advantageous option for SMEs looking to boost their bottom line whilst helping contribute to a greener future.

What is the future of solar energy in the UK?

The future of solar energy in the UK is bright. What with the focus that the UK government has given to renewable energy, coupled with decreasing technology costs, means solar power has the potential to become a major contributor in the UK's future energy mix. Solar Energy UK highlights that solar power is now one of the most cost-effective ways to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, further solidifying its importance in the UK's energy landscape.¹ 

 Advancements in solar panel efficiency and energy storage solutions are further strengthening the viability of solar power, making it an increasingly attractive option for both businesses and households. Growing public support for renewable energy sources and increasing awareness of environmental concerns are also fuelling the demand for solar power. Overall, while challenges like land availability and grid integration exist, the overall outlook for solar energy in the UK remains highly positive, with continued growth and innovation anticipated in the coming decade.

What is the UK solar power policy?

The UK government has set some ambitious solar targets, aiming for a fivefold increase in solar power (from a capacity of 14GW to 70GW) by 2035. To help achieve this, several measures have been proposed, including streamlining planning regulations for rooftop solar installations, removing barriers for large-scale solar farms, and providing financial incentives for solar adoption. There’s also been an emphasis on a more decentralised approach, encouraging not only businesses, but communities, and individuals to invest in solar power generation. In a wider context, the UK government sees solar power as a key pillar in its strategy to decarbonise the energy sector, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

What is the solar potential in the UK?

The UK possesses great solar potential despite our usually somewhat cloudy weather. Our southern regions in particular, receive levels of sunlight comparable with many central European countries like Germany, a global leader in solar energy. And whilst the light energy received from sunlight is lower in the north, advancements in solar panel technology are making it possible to harness energy even in less sunny conditions. There’s also a benefit of our cooler temperatures too, in that they can enhance the performance of our solar panels, meaning higher energy yields.

Solar Energy UK demonstrates the feasibility and effectiveness of solar power in Britain in their ‘Everything under the sun’ briefing report.² As a nation, we’re able to consistently generate large amounts of electricity and with our vast expanse of rooftops, brownfields, and agricultural land, we’ve got ample space for further solar development. Britain’s solar potential might not be as high as countries in sunnier regions, but it’s substantial enough to make a significant contribution to our energy needs and help us transition towards a more renewable energy future.

How do I get solar panels installed at my business?

Getting solar panels installed at your business is simple, and as a general rule, all you'll need to do is follow these key steps.

  1. Assess your energy consumption and check your roof suitability to determine the optimal system size and placement.

  2. Contact a reputable solar installer with experience in commercial projects, preferably one who is MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) accredited, this will mean you can unlock the financial benefits of the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). The SEG is a government initiative that enables businesses to earn money by selling excess electricity generated from their solar panels back to the grid. 

  3. Once you've chosen your installer, they’ll handle the design, permitting, and installation process. They should also ensure your compliance with local regulations and safety standards.

  4. After installation, the installer will typically provide maintenance and monitoring services to ensure your solar panel system operates efficiently and effectively for many years to come.

Why not find out more about going solar? We can deliver great results for all types of businesses, across many sectors, and we’re always ready to help.

 

Are there any grants or schemes for businesses to install solar panels?

Yes. Many local councils and regional authorities offer grants for solar installations, to promote renewable energy adoption in their areas. They can provide guidance on eligibility requirements, application processes, and potential cost savings associated with solar panel installations. It's always worth researching and contacting your local council to find out what options are available where you live.

How much does it cost to install solar panels?

The cost of installing solar panels for your business in the UK depends on several factors, including the size of the system, the type and quality of panels, and the complexity of the installation. Smaller systems for small businesses may start around the £10,000 mark, while larger installations for industrial purposes can easily reach six figures. It's important to liaise with your installers to get an accurate estimate for your specific needs. Remember, whilst the initial investment on solar might seem a lot, this should be weighed up against the long-term savings on your company’s energy bills and potential government incentives.

What are the business benefits of having solar panels installed?

Installing solar panels offers many benefits for businesses.

  1. It reduces electricity costs, as businesses can generate their own power, they can lower their reliance on the grid and mitigate the impact of fluctuating energy prices.

  2. Solar panels can provide a predictable and stable energy source, shielding businesses from market volatility. This energy independence can also enhance operational resilience, ensuring business continuity even during power outages.

  3. Solar installations can increase property value and make a business more attractive to potential buyers or tenants.

  4. Going solar demonstrates a commitment to sustainability, boosting a company’s brand image and appealing to environmentally conscious consumers and investors.

  5. Some businesses may be eligible for government incentives and tax credits, further improving your return on investment.

Overall, going solar can give your business a real strategic advantage by reducing costs, enhancing sustainability, and improving your long-term financial and environmental outlook.

 

Can I power EV charging points with solar panels?

Powering EV charging points with energy generated from solar panels is an option for businesses. But you need the right set up. It requires investment in a photovoltaic system and a battery storage system if you intend to charge overnight. If you have these, then your solar panels (together with an inverter) can generate electricity to power your business and charge your EVs. It’s worth noting that you’d need a lot of solar panels to generate enough electricity to power both your business and your EV chargers, so for many, it may not be the most viable option.

Learn more about how installing EV charging points can help your business with E.ON Next. We can design, install, operate and maintain your electric car charging points. In addition, you'll get authenticated access, charging data, CO2 offset reporting, and maintenance on-call. Whatever the size of your project, or level of support you need, we can offer a package that’s right for you.

Solar power could support growth in your business.

Solar power is a great opportunity for UK SMEs to reduce their energy costs, improve their sustainability credentials, and enhance their brand image. By generating their own clean electricity, businesses could lower operating expenses, protect against fluctuating energy prices, and demonstrate a strong commitment to environmental responsibility. When you add in the benefits of government incentives and potential increases in property value, it all adds up to solar power being a smart investment for your business.

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Published 23/06/2024