29 Mar Solar Power: The benefits of onsite generation
As the UK continues on its path to a green recovery, organisations need to prepare for a net zero future. This will mean mandatory carbon reporting, a rise in green finance, and a rapidly evolving energy landscape. This transformation, though crucial, could introduce a range of new challenges such as a volatile market and higher energy tariffs.
Over the next ten years, the electricity demand will continue to rise. As the country moves away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy, the national wind and solar network will need to expand. Add to this the likely increase in electric cars when laws change in 2030 and we are looking at a potentially unstable energy future.
Onsite generation can be a sensible and sustainable solution for organisations seeking certainty and control of their energy costs. While solar PV has been largely overlooked in recent government plans, it remains an innovative tool for businesses. Its benefits include cutting costs, reducing carbon emissions and boosting an organisation’s green credentials.
Universities, Schools, Care Homes and Sports Clubs could all benefit from solar onsite generation. The university of Sussex recently finished installing 3000 solar panels on the roof at their campus which generates 5% of their total energy use each year. In 2019 a £10m government grant scheme, The Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) helped over 150 sports clubs and rural communities install solar power systems.
Increased efficiency, lower cost
A large amount of power is lost during the transmission and distribution of electricity across the grid. This is referred to as a ‘line loss’ and eventually finds its way into your energy bills as part of your non commodity costs. These ‘third-party costs’ also cover the maintenance and balancing of the grid, and account for around 75% of your electricity bill.
By generating your own power onsite, you can avoid non-commodity costs altogether, as well as fluctuating energy prices. In addition to these savings, there is also an opportunity for profit as you can often sell excess energy back to the grid.
Secure power supply
Ensuring your business has a reliable power supply is essential. This is why generating your own power onsite can be such an attractive solution. Total control over your energy supply, power use, cost, and even sale, provides a reassuring certainty.
Onsite generation can also be a powerful tool for reducing your risks. Many things can interrupt your power supply. Accidental damage to cables and adverse weather conditions can cause unpredictable outages. Then there are the fluctuating prices for periods of peak demand. Supplementing your power supply with onsite generation reduces your reliance on the grid and helps protect against these issues.
An organisation’s green credentials will become more important as the race to net zero intensifies and customer interest in sustainability grows. For larger businesses, carbon reporting is already mandatory. This makes reducing your environmental footprint obligatory as well as being great for your business’ reputation.
In a net zero economy, onsite solar generation will be a powerful piece of evidence of an organisation’s sustainability. This will be crucial both for securing future funding and building a strong reputation in a changing market.
What are the options?
Solar energy can be used to generate both electricity and heat. The two main solar systems currently available are:
Solar Photovoltaic (Solar PV): This generates electricity from sunlight. While they work best on clear sunny days, they do also generate power on overcast days. Grid connected systems can export unused energy and, when needed, import energy when there is not enough sunlight.
Solar Thermal: This system uses heat from the sun to heat your water. These systems can save you money on your electricity or gas bill. Most boilers are compatible with solar thermal but you do need a hot water tank.
Is it expensive?
Installing roof mounted solar panels to power your business or heat your building has never been cheaper. Modern panels are more efficient than ever and could be an ideal solution to your energy issues.
Maintenance costs are usually very low. Most systems last up to 40 years and come with a 5-10 year warranty. Once installed they need very little ongoing attention.
While there is an upfront cost, solar panels will significantly reduce the ongoing expense to your business. Following a government initiative in 2020 energy providers now offer a Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). As long as your solar setup meets some basic criteria you can get a great low rate for any energy you do end up buying.
How ESS can help you
At ESS we can help you put together an energy plan and manage your ongoing needs. If you are not quite ready for the switch to onsite generation, we can make sure you are not paying more for your energy than you have to. Our service begins with an energy audit to establish how much you could be saving on your bills.
We offer a range of solutions and a bespoke service tailored to your business. If you would like some help making the switch to onsite generation or reducing your carbon footprint, get in touch today. We will be with you every step of the way.