So you’ve read all about the financial benefits of solar PV and now you’re considering solar panels for your warehouse roof. That’s great – you’re one step closer to making your business some serious savings. Here are some of the things you’ll need to know before you commit.
What makes warehouses perfect for solar panels?
The prime reason why warehouses are suitable for solar panels is the large roof space. A 2022 report by the UK Warehousing Association found that warehouses own nearly a third of all commercial roof space in the UK. By using or renting out this space, the warehousing sector can become a net producer of green electricity. It could double the UK’s solar capacity and meet National Grid’s requirements for solar expansion by 2030 all while helping businesses save on their energy bills.
With all sorts of incentives and help available, now is a great time to go green. Tax rebates, government grants, and funding towards decarbonisation projects are all up for grabs. These initiatives make it easier for businesses to move towards renewable energy and have some of the cost subsidised.
Warehouses are usually located in industrial estates on the outskirts of towns and cities, making them perfect for generating and delivering local renewable energy. In some areas, using existing rooftop spaces helps to avoid planning constraints and the development of new land – something particularly important in the context of the new UK Government Environmental Improvement Plan.
What types of warehouses benefit most from solar panels?
Often warehouses feature metal deck roofs making it all the more accessible and easy to install and maintain solar panels.
Of course, not all warehouses will benefit equally from solar panels. How much energy a solar system can potentially produce depends on several factors such as energy consumption, the type of roof space, and the direction the building faces.
Warehouses with high energy consumption
Warehouses with higher energy consumption, such as those used for temperature-controlled storage, are ideal for solar PV technology as they can benefit greatly from the reduced energy costs. For example, cold storage facilities need a large amount of energy to maintain low temperatures, and some of this energy can be offset by using solar panels. Similarly, warehouses that need air conditioning or heating are well-placed to make good savings.
Warehouses with large, unobstructed roof areas
Warehouses with large and typically unobstructed roof areas are ideal as they provide ample space for the panels. Seasonal effects and the surrounding environment such as shading from nearby buildings or trees can reduce the output of a solar panel system. It’s essential to assess the surroundings of your warehouse to work out the potential for energy generation.
Even with seasonal effects, solar panels are a great strategy for any warehouse wanting to achieve better energy efficiency and save money over time. That is because they rely on light, and not sunlight, to generate electricity. This means it doesn’t have to be sunny for your solar panels to generate electricity (a relief for those of us in the UK). If the weather conditions are really poor, you’ll simply draw from the grid as usual.
During installation, any obstructions and shading need to be taken into account. For this reason, it’s best to use qualified local experts with specialist experience in commercial installations. They’ll be able to advise you on the best way to install your system to maximise production.
Warehouses facing south
Warehouses facing south are considered ideal for solar panel installations as they receive the most direct sunlight, thus maximizing energy production. Though, as we just discovered, solar panels don’t need to be in direct contact with sunlight to produce energy and will still produce it on cloudy days. It just means the output will be higher the brighter and more direct the light is.
Warehouses that face other directions can still benefit from solar PV, and a qualified solar panel installation company can assess the suitability of a warehouse and recommend the best system to meet its specific needs. There are several ways to install solar panels for warehouses and angle them in such a way as to achieve optimal energy generation.
To summarise, the most suitable warehouses for solar PV technology are those with high energy consumption and large, unobstructed roof areas facing south. However, each warehouse needs to be assessed individually to determine its suitability and to ensure maximum energy production and cost savings.
The size of your system also matters. Whether you’re building a new facility or looking to retrofit solar PV on an existing one, there’s plenty to gain.
The system needs to be designed to suit your specific needs. This should consider factors such as the amount of energy that needs to be generated, whether you want to maximise your power usage and how much electricity can be fed back into the grid.
Whatever your objectives are, to derive the most benefit from your solar system, you should make full use of it by maximising the available roof space.
As a whole, solar panel systems are becoming more affordable, led by technology developments and falling manufacturing costs.
Moreover, most systems are generally low maintenance, requiring cleaning and occasional check-ups to ensure proper functioning.
Good quality panels have a long lifespan of around 25-30 years and some newer models can go for over 40 years – so even with depreciation, most systems will pay for themselves in 4 to 6 years of usage.
The time it takes to break even can be further reduced under the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) Government scheme. Although SEG doesn’t pay towards installation costs, it allows businesses to export any excess energy generated and make modest profits (with limits on how much can be exported).
Consider renting out your roof space
If you have a warehouse with plenty of roof space but you don’t want to install solar panels, you can consider renting it out and in turn pay a discounted rate for solar electricity. That way, you can get the cost-saving advantages of a solar energy system without outright buying and installing one.
Why and when you should consider solar panels for your warehouse
By investing in warehouse solar panels, you’ll not only be helping the planet decarbonise – you’ll also be enjoying a series of benefits like hitting energy efficiency goals and saving money on your commercial electricity bills.
If your warehouse is energy-intensive, has a large, unobstructed roof space and is facing south, you could be in a perfect position to save yourself thousands of pounds every year.
Temperature-controlled facilities with large roofs will have the biggest opportunity for cost savings, but all other kinds of warehouses can also benefit greatly from commercial solar PV, both new builds and retrofit projects.
To get the most bang for your solar energy buck, you can store the excess energy in batteries for later use or sell it back to the national grid. Or if installing a solar PV system just doesn’t make financial sense right now, consider renting out your warehouse roof space and then purchasing renewable energy at a reduced rate – win-win.
Whatever your position with solar PV for warehouses, contact the expert team at SQ4S for a professional consultation.