Commercial Solar Panel Installation

Things to think about

Solar Power is one of the world’s most popular renewable energy technologies

Why

?

It’s relatively easy to access, straightforward to maintain and because of the abundance of energy. Did you know that in a single hour the amount of power from the sun that strikes the Earth is more than enough to power the entire world for over a year?

That being said, as popular as it is for the reasons mentioned above, there are lots of things to think about when you are considering a solar power project –

Site disruption

For the most part, commercial solar PV systems can be installed with little-to-no disruptions; you certainly won’t need to shut your site during the work. You will, however, know that we are there. It is likely that you will need to allocate an area of your parking/storage facilitates for our compound, where we will set up our working area for the duration of the project. Subject to the size of the project, our compound will contain –
  • Storage for solar equipment and mechanical access machinery
  • Welfare facilities for our operative
  • An office for our Project/Site management

Scaffold Disruption

If we are installing solar panels to your roof, our operatives will need safe, rapid, access as well as somewhere to load our materials on to. Subject to the size and scale of your project, we may need multiple loading towers which – subject to the height of your building – may be as large as 49m2. The scaffolding is the first and last parts of the project so careful consideration is needed as to where the scaffolding is placed. If the optimum location for the access towers happens to be near an access door, we have methods for ensuring these remain fully-operational during our work.

Electrical Connection

Subject to the size of the solar installation and the on-site electrical configuration, it is highly likely that several short electrical shutdowns may be required.

These can be carried out during quiet periods – such as at night or at weekends.

Once planning approval is nearly with us, we will produce a detailed project plan which will try and pin point when the shut downs may be required, and work with you to ensure the impact is minimal.

We work to ensure the two sides of the connection are ready, and then the shut down is simply to bring them both together. If required, we can have multiple – short – shutdowns if this better suits the operations of the site.

Noise on Roof

Your solar panels will need to stay in place for over 25 years, and they will need to withstand the very best that mother-nature has to offer.

Accordingly, our solar installation teams will use power tools to ensure a solid fix to the roof.

The noise of the drills and fixings – particularly on a metal roof – are not to be under-estimated. 

Additionally, the noise created by our operatives as they criss-cross over the roof, may well cause issues internally and should be discussed early on. 

Planning Rights

For most buildings that were built before 2010, it is highly unlikely that the weight of solar panels were ever a consideration in the design process.

That said, depending on the use of the building, it is highly likely that a certain level of tolerance was factored in for additional load on the roof.

As part of our development process we will contract an independent structural engineer to assess your building for the proposed additional loads.

It is almost certain that your insurer will want to see a copy of your independent structural report if they are asked to provide cover for the new system.

For ground-mounted systems, it will be necessary to understand the make-up of the ground. The make up of the ground will determine how deep the aluminium structures need to be piled in order to stay in place. The outcome of the ground survey may even mean that a concrete or ‘tub’ system is more appropriate.

Grid Permission

Despite the governments pledge to achieve Net Zero by 2050 there are instances where businesses can be prevented from installing solar panels.

In short, if the local grid does not have the capacity to receive the power your solar system generates or it has issues on its network that prevent the installation of special hardware to prevent export to the grid, they have the right to veto the project.

Please see our blog – No Export, No Problem – for further information.

Leasehold

Not owning the building you would like to connect solar panels to is not necessarily a barrier to generating your own solar power.

The system we developed and installed for Berry Gardens in 2019 was installed on a building they did not own.

As a rule of thumb you will have at least the projected payback plus 3 year remaining on your lease as well as having the express permission of your landlord before beginning the process.

If you own your building but are worried about the implications of installing solar on a building you may wish to redevelop at a later date, you are under no obligation to continue generating clean energy once you start. If you install solar on year 1, and sell at year 15, the solar can simply be disconnected along with the other utility services; there may even be some residual value in the equipment being removed.

If you own your own building but are worried it may impact on your ability to sell the facility to a new occupant, bear in mind that selling premises with its own clean energy station is likely to help it gain an advantage over similar buildings that do not generate their own power. As the cost of electricity rises this point is likely to become stronger.

Condition of Roof

Solar panels are designed to be installed once and, ideally, left in place. Accordingly, it is important to consider the condition of the roof you are thinking of installing the panels on.

The condition of your roof is important to protect both your return on investment and you risk.

You clearly want to avoid the cost of removing the panels if you can help it but you also want to avoid having a less-than-watertight roof. Although leaks are rare, if the roof’s best days are behind it, you may wish to consider repairs/replacement as part of the project.

Conversely, if your roof is brand new, you want to be clear that the roof was in great condition before the installation began.

Inverter Location

The inverters are the brains of the operation – they invert the DC power produced by the panels into AC power than can be used on site. They also control power being exported back to the grid if not used on site.

Invariably they are placed at ground-level to allow for on-going maintenance and it is highly likely, during the life of your system, that one of more of the inverters will need replacing and/or repairing.

Because they are at ground-level it is important to choose a location that is –

  • Within 20m of the point of connection into your electrical infrastructure
  • Protected from the impact of forklifts or lorries
  • Shielded from direct sunlight
  • Well ventilated

Most inverters are IP65 rated so they can live outside if space inside is at a premium.

Structural Adequacy / Ground Make Up

For most buildings that were built before 2010, it is highly unlikely that the weight of solar panels were ever a consideration in the design process.

That said, depending on the use of the building, it is highly likely that a certain level of tolerance was factored in for additional load on the roof.

As part of our development process we will contract an independent structural engineer to assess your building for the proposed additional loads.

It is almost certain that your insurer will want to see a copy of your independent structural report if they are asked to provide cover for the new system.

For ground-mounted systems, it will be necessary to understand the make-up of the ground. The make up of the ground will determine how deep the aluminium structures need to be piled in order to stay in place. The outcome of the ground survey may even mean that a concrete or ‘tub’ system is more appropriate.

Start your solar project today!

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