Shining a light on solar energy

How solar energy can support your business

The UK is committed to reducing its impact on the planet, with an ambitious and legally binding target of net-zero emissions by 2050, the first country in the world to do so.

One element of meeting such a target is making sure we can embed renewable energy into our businesses, either in the supplies from the national grid or generating clean power ourselves on-site.

That is where solar power - one of the UK’s fastest growing energy technologies – comes in and where businesses can start to better understand and benefit in terms of emissions and energy costs.

Powering your business with solar panels is better for the environment than using fossil fuels and can reduce your reliance on the grid.

By pairing it with complementary technologies such as batteries or electric vehicles you can maximise the full benefit by using the energy you generate when it best suits you – either importing less electricity at expensive peak times and saving you money on your energy bills or helping to support the grid at times of high demand and getting paid in return (this is called demand side response).

How does it work?

Solar energy is generated from photovoltaic (PV) panels installed on buildings, car ports, in fields and even on water courses, such as lakes, turning daylight into energy.

And what's more, you don't need to use the energy as soon as it's generated.

The energy generated can either be used immediately in your business or it can be stored in batteries or used alongside electric vehicle charging so that you can keep on using the power whenever you need it, even once the sun has set.

There's a misconception that solar panels only work in full sunshine, and while sunnier days will generate more power than cloudy ones, solar panels will create electricity during all daylight hours whatever the weather.

If you have looked at solar PV before and thought it was too expensive then it may be time to look again. As the technology has developed the costs have dropped significantly and in some cases we can provide funding to offset the costs, avoiding the need for initial capital outlays and still developing significant savings for your business. 

What can solar power be used for in your business?

Providing electricity Solar panels can generate the electricity you need to light your business and power your appliances. It can connect to your current system and voltage rate, whether 415v or HV, and via your current switch technology to augment your current site needs and demands.

Charging electric cars - If your fleet, staff or visitors to your site have plug-in hybrid or full electric vehicles, you can use the energy generated by your solar panels to charge these and give you even greater carbon offset to achieve your targets and objectives.

Heat pumps – If you have invested in more efficient heat pump technology for your premises, by powering them using solar generated supplies you will be combining zero-carbon technologies and give your business maximum benefit.

What are the commercial benefits of solar energy?

There are many benefits to powering your business with solar energy:

Reduce your electricity costs - By generating your own power through solar panels, you may be able to cut your annual electricity bill.

Reduce your carbon footprint – Solar power is a source of clean energy so using it to power your business will mean you're achieving both your carbon reduction objectives and contributing to the UK achieving its carbon reduction goals - a vital step in helping to combat the climate emergency.

Clearing the air - As well as helping to combat climate change, renewable energies such as solar also help to reduce air pollution, one of the biggest challenges we're facing globally.

Easy to install – Solar panels can be easily installed on your roof or on surrounding land or water that you own. Working with key experienced installation partners, we can design, build, operate and maintain your solar system during the project lifecycle to ensure you will receive the maximum savings during the whole contract term. We consider your individual requirements, giving you the best fit for your business. You can fund the installation yourself or in some circumstances we can fund it for you.

The energy behind a great performance

We’ve been working with The ACC Liverpool Group since it opened. As well as providing all its electricity and gas, we help them make the most of the business opportunities energy provides, turning expenses into sustainable profits.

In 2015, we installed 925 solar panels which we run and maintain, providing around 5-10% of the venue’s electricity.

By working together and identifying energy opportunities, The ACC Liverpool Group now generate £20,000 to £25,000 worth of renewable energy and save 130 tonnes of carbon every year. 

Are there any potential downsides of solar energy?

While there are obviously many environmental and financial benefits to installing solar energy in your business, there are also some factors to consider before making your decision:

Affordability – While having solar energy helps to reduce your electricity demand, it needs initial investment in the purchase and installation of the panels. At E.ON, we can make that a little bit easier, so we have a range of payment options, including funding or lease plans as well as power purchase agreements to help spread the cost.

Weather dependency – Solar systems reach maximum efficiency when it's sunny. So although solar PV systems will still generate electricity on cloudy days, you'll need to factor in the effect on how much power you need and how much you will typically generate in the UK climate.

Every building is different – Architectural specifics, neighbouring buildings, trees or shading around your premises can all affect the potential solar design. Detailed surveys, including grid and planning surveys as required, can be carried out in advance to ensure the right solar package for your business, including making sure it’s monitored and optimised for the best self-generation.