What is Solar Photovoltaics (Solar PV)
Solar Photovoltaics (commonly known as Solar PV) is the process of converting light into electricity using solar panels. The way solar panels do this is because they are made up of many layers of semiconducting material, most commonly silicon. When light shines on the material, electricity flows. In order for solar energy to work, the sun’s energy is captured and transformed into electricity quietly and effectively.
Luckily, the cells don’t need direct sunlight to function as they can operate on cloudy days. However, it is important to note that solar panels will produce the most electricity on sunnier days compared to those that are overcast. The more solar panels you have can really make a difference in much power you generate.
When functioning properly, Solar PV panels typically generate around 250-300W of power in strong sunlight. In addition, typical systems are made up of 10 to 15 panels and can create a direct current (DC) of electricity. Theoretically, our planet is exposed to enough photons every hour to generate enough solar energy to meet global energy needs for an entire year.
The big jump
By 2021, the solar PV installations in Europe jumped by 34% as 25.9GW of PV capacity was added to the European grids, compared to 19.3GW added in 2020. This was reported by the trade association in its latest EU Market Outlook for Solar power report in mid-December 2021.
The introduction of new solar panels across Europe was widely received since The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) stated the number of panels was up 16% above their projections from the year before. However, the addition of the panels was down 5% in their Global Market Outlook published in July 2021, as the impact of supply shortage-related project delays is less clear.
According to the research, the previous record was set in 2011 with a total installed capacity of 21.44GW, as the sector transitioned from feed-in tariffs to new incentives and markets, it began a years-long slump. We have seen the words of European leaders come true within the last ten years as we move away from outdated, finite energy resources despite global efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
5.3GW of new solar capacity was installed in Germany last year, followed by 3.8GW in Spain, 3.3GW in the Netherlands, 3.2GW in Poland, and 2.5GW in France, according to a report by the EU Market Outlook 2021 research firm.
Here at Bright Utilities, we are always looking for ways to improve energy efficiency. By installing solar panels, using a 4kW system under optimal conditions, small businesses can save up to £16,000 in 20 years, according to The Eco Experts. And Large businesses that can fit a 50KW system could see savings of £10,000 per year, with weather permitting conditions.
In the UK, we are expected to see additional growth in Solar PV fittings as Brighton Energy Co-op plans to run a grant scheme to help SMEs install solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations. A solar PV array or a solar PV array in combination with an electric vehicle charging point can be financed for up to 40% of the total cost – a maximum of £25,000. Solar array sizes ranging from 30kW to 80kW with funding from European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
What this means for businesses
Grants being offered to UK businesses for the fitting of Solar PVs is a great step in the right direction to promote the many ways businesses can use alternative energy sources.
But how will I know if my company is eligible for solar panel fittings?
Luckily, we are here to give you the run-down on what makes your business eligible for solar panels. The average system size is between 3 and 4kW, and this usually requires around 15-20m2 of roof area. It is proposed that businesses place their solar panel arrays on roofs in order to reduce the risk of other buildings and naturally occurring organisms obstructing the solar panels’ access to sunlight.
Ideally, a roof facing directly south is the best option for maximum energy output. Roofs facing east or west are still suitable, but north-facing roofs should not be considered. However, Roofs facing east or west will produce around 15% less energy than those facing directly south.
Solar PV panels are permitted developments, which generally do not need planning permission. However, you should consult your local planning office if you live in a listed building, conservation area, or national park.
Solar panels can really benefit businesses to help them reduce their carbon footprint and their monthly bills. Our energy experts can offer your business lots of energy tariffs that reduce your bills if you decide to have Solar PV panels installed. This is part of the plan from the UK government to reward businesses for using power source alternatives.
As a business owner, you can also have a solar inverter fitted to help you divert the extra energy you don’t use. However, this comes with an export tariff, that you will still have to pay even if you don’t store any energy as the inverter needs funds to keep it running.
No matter what you decide, Bright Utilities can guide you to the best energy provider to meet your business’ needs, as well as how you can make exclusive savings and become part of the green movement.