TOP TIPS WHEN CONSIDERING THE SWITCH TO SOLAR
How do commercial solar panels differ from domestic panels?
Solar panels for businesses average 1.9m by 1.2m and are larger than panels installed on the roofs of domestic premises, which normally measure 1.7m by 1.1m.
The larger panel means the wattage per panel is also typically bigger, usually 470-500W versus 400-430W for a domestic install.
The number of panels used by a small-to-medium (SME) sized business can range between 30 and 140 panels, compared to an average of 12 used by family dwellings.
What are the benefits of switching to solar?
The main benefit is a significant reduction in energy bills.
Overheads can be reduced further by selling power back to the national grid.
Other benefits include a reduction in a firm’s carbon footprint, and an improvement in its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) score.
A typical, medium-sized, businesses in Ireland will see an annual CO2 reduction of 9.9 tonnes, with small businesses reducing emissions by 5.8 tonnes.
A business which actively cuts its carbon footprint while improving its ESG score demonstrates to its customers, employees, and future employees, that it cares about the environment.
Solar panels also increase energy independence, and boost the value of commercial property.
How much do commercial solar panels cost?
The cost of a commercial solar panel system for a small to medium-sized business can vary between €20,000 and €80,000.
Costs will depend on business needs and available roof space.
The amount of energy required and the power of the panels are also significant factors.
The average medium-sized business in Ireland uses around 25,000 to 50,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity each year; it’s 15,000 to 25,000 kWh for small businesses.
A business should expect to pay between 20 and 45 cent per kilowatt hour for its electricity.
Grants available and payback period
Funding packages of between €2,700 and €162,600 have been introduced to encourage more businesses to install a solar PV system.
Grants from Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland will support 20-30% of the investment cost, meaning some businesses could see payback in as little as three years.
Firms which decide to install a new solar PV system can also benefit from the Accelerated Capital Allowances (ACA) scheme, where the cost of the system can be offset against profits to reduce the company tax bill.
Solar Planning Exemptions
Planning permission for solar PV and planning is no longer required for rooftop systems – unless the install is located in a Solar Safeguarding Zone (SSZ). SSZs are areas located near airports, helipads and aerodromes. If your property is within a SSZ and the install is greater than 300sqm (roughly 140 panels), you will need planning permission. A Glint and Glare report will be required as part of your planning application. A full list of SSZs can be found on www.myplan.ie.
ESB need to be notified of your solar PV install for safety purposes, and to allow you export to the grid if applicable. Your solar installer will complete this application for you. There is an application fee required. ESB will then decide on the level of solar PV export allowed for your property.