Category: Technology

Weighing up the viability of hydrogen fuel

At the time of writing this article, wildfires are devastating the east coast of America, and the world remains in a state of standstill due to the virus pandemic. The effects of climate change are no longer a distant threat: we are already living through them.

It’s clear to most people that our blase attitude to fossil fuels must change. We need to really start getting behind the mainstream adoption of renewables.

While solar PV is our one true love, we’re all for embracing a wide range of renewable technologies. Especially in instances where the use of solar isn’t quite right.

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of hydrogen fuel: a renewable option that’s becoming increasingly popular. This powerful fuel is non-polluting and could deliver power on an industrial scale, given the right infrastructure.

 

What is it, and how does it work?

Like electricity, hydrogen is an ‘energy carrier’: it does not produce its own energy, but it carries energy produced by another system.

Usually, hydrogen is produced by electrolysis (splitting hydrogen from water), or thermal processing of natural gas. This informative blog post explains other ways hydrogen may be obtained.

Here are the two most important things you need to know about hydrogen fuel:

  1. It’s a clean fuel: when consumed, the only byproduct is clean water. That means no pollution and no carbon emissions.
  2. Obtaining hydrogen is difficult, and requires a lot of energy. Hydrogen is the most common element in our atmosphere, but it never exists naturally in its pure form.

When the hydrogen has been obtained, it may be used in a similar way to natural gas. Here’s what the world’s favourite encyclopedia  has to say:

“[Hydrogen] can be delivered to fuel cells to generate electricity and heat, used in a combined cycle gas turbine to produce larger quantities of centrally produced electricity or burned to run a combustion engine; all methods producing no carbon or methane emissions”.

We highly recommend this video about hydrogen fuel; it explains it much better than we ever could!

 

What are the green credentials of hydrogen?

Overall, hydrogen is pretty green, but it’s not a straightforward answer.

As we mentioned above, producing hydrogen is both difficult and energy-intensive. For it to be considered a renewable fuel source, it must be produced using renewable electricity. This is known as ‘green hydrogen’.

The slightly-less-green version is called ‘blue hydrogen’. This is hydrogen production where the associated carbon emissions have been captured, offset, or reused. Unfortunately, around 95% of the world’s hydrogen is ‘grey hydrogen’, produced using fossil fuels (usually natural gas).

While green hydrogen seems like the clear winner, it’s not that simple. This is also the most expensive method of producing hydrogen. This lack of affordability means we can’t embrace widespread hydrogen fuelling just yet. However, an EU-funded project, CHANNEL, is currently exploring how we can produce green hydrogen in a cost-effective way.

 

What are the pros and cons of hydrogen fuelling?

Pros

  • No harmful emissions, and has the potential to be completely renewable
  • Infinite supply: hydrogen is the most common element in our world
  • Capable of delivering large amounts of power
  • Suitable for use in heavy plant or machinery, where other renewable technologies may not be appropriate

 

Cons

  • Laborious process to obtain the hydrogen
  • Energy-intensive
  • Expensive
  • Most current options are not green

 

Where is hydrogen fuel being used?

Although not currently a mainstream renewable option, hydrogen is already being applied in some cases.

Germany, in particular, is already pushing ahead with its first national hydrogen strategy. As part of its COVID economic recovery plans, the German government is investing €9 million in repurposing old gas pipelines to create a hydrogen grid.

In the UK, we are proceeding a little more cautiously, but progress is still happening. Keele University is trialling the use of a natural gas and 20% hydrogen blend. This fuel is being used in the gas hobs at the university canteen. This small step reduced the amount of C02 produced through cooking and heating the university, without making significant infrastructure changes.

Interest in hydrogen fuelling is also being explored closer home. Hydrogen East is a “bringing together interested parties and key stakeholders on hydrogen specifically in the East of England.” East Anglia is home to several large offshore wind farms. Hydrogen East proposes that any surplus energy may be deployed for hydrogen fuelling in the region.

Here’s what Johnathan Reynolds, a founding member of Hydrogen East (and also Managing Director of energy group Opergy), said about the initiative:

“Today, East Anglia is already a rich and diverse ‘energy powerhouse’, and with almost all forms of power generation either on or immediately off its coastline. We have a wide range of innovative businesses pushing the boundaries of research and demonstration projects in hydrogen, energy storage, capturing, storing and using CO2, and novel clean energy solutions.

“Working in partnership with a wide range of partners, Hydrogen East will identify options, map and promote them and deliver a viable route map that sees East Anglia as a leading ‘hydrogen region’. It offers a major opportunity to integrate and transform our clean energy sectors across gas, renewables and nuclear, become a regional leader and create thousands of jobs in the long term.”

We’re certainly very interested in the work of Hydrogen East, and will be keeping our eyes peeled for future developments.

 

While hydrogen fuelling is not a ‘silver bullet’ for fighting climate change, this innovative technology certainly has a role to play.

Want to keep up to date with the latest renewables news? Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. (links)

Are commercial solar panels worth it?

solar panel farm with wind turbine

Everything you need to know about commercial solar PV

Although we pride ourselves on providing a range of renewable technologies, commercial solar panels remain our flagship offering.

But what exactly is it? And are commercial solar panels worth it? This comprehensive online guide will answer everything you need to know before embracing commercial solar panels for your business. By providing you with as much information as possible, we hope you’ll feel empowered to make an informed decision about whether solar PV is right for your company.

Here’s what you’ll find out in this article…

What are commercial solar panels? 
How do commercial solar panels work? 
Finance options for commercial solar panels
Why use commercial solar panels?
Do commercial solar panels require maintenance?
Are there any negatives to commercial solar panels?
Are commercial solar panels worth it?

What are commercial solar panels?

Commercial solar panels (or commercial solar PV) are simply solar panels that are used by a business or organisation. There’s no such thing as ‘industrial-grade solar’. Of course, businesses are likely to have much larger solar arrays than domestic customers.

Commercial solar panels can benefit businesses of any sector. If you use a large amount of energy to run your business, why not make it green? However, commercial solar PV may be especially beneficial to companies in the following sectors due to their large energy requirements:

  • Agriculture
  • Manufacture
  • Food and drink
  • Transport
  • Hospitality
  • Leisure

 

How does a commercial solar array work?

All solar panels work the same, whether they’re used commercially or not.

Solar panels are comprised of wafers of silicon placed between layers of glass, metal, and an anti-glare coating. When sunlight shines on the solar cells, electrons in the silicon are agitated. This agitation grows into movement, creating an electrical current. This flows through an inverter, changing it to alternating current (we typically use AC energy in our homes and businesses because it’s safer).

Commercial solar PV may be paired with battery storage. Without a battery, solar energy must be used in real-time, when the sun is shining. Battery storage allows you to save that energy for later (ie nighttime). Even with a battery, your business won’t be off-grid. Your business will likely use more energy than the solar alone can provide, so will still require grid energy for the excess.

Commercial solar panels also work well if your employees or fleet use electric vehicles. Most EV chargers can be programmed to use solar energy before drawing any power from the grid. This allows your business to offer EV charge facilities, without increasing your energy bill.

 

Finance options for commercial solar panels

Buying and installing your own solar panels (CapEx) is always the most cost-effective option. However, this is not possible for all businesses. Purchasing your own solar requires an upfront investment, which not all budgets allow.

Businesses that want to get their energy from solar without the upfront investment may benefit from a power purchase agreement (PPA).

A PPA allows businesses to gain onsite solar, without investing in the installation themselves. Under a PPA, you don’t own the solar panels. They are owned by the installer, who rents your roof space for a nominal fee. Your business then purchases its energy from the installer, at lower than the market rate.

You can read our full guide to PPAs here.

 

Why use solar PV for businesses?

Businesses that use a lot of energy, but only during daylight hours, are the ideal candidate for commercial solar PV. This is because your energy load profile matches the sunlight hours, so you can use the energy in real-time without wasting any. Domestic homes, on the other hand, use more energy in the early mornings and evenings, before the sun is shining. Most commercial buildings also benefit from a large, flat roof: the ideal location for solar.

Switching to solar PV will instantly cut your business’s energy bill. The more energy your business uses, the more you can save with solar panels. Reducing your energy spend increases your bottom line, improving the profitability of your business. This frees up extra capital to invest elsewhere in your business. You are also safeguarding your business from increased overheads in the future, as energy costs will consistently rise.

Of course, solar panels also provide significant green benefits to your business. Reducing your company’s carbon footprint helps fulfil your corporate environmental responsibility. Not only is it the right thing to do, but your customers and stakeholders will appreciate it, too. A comprehensive new study by Neilsen found that consumers prefer brands with green credentials.

 

Does commercial solar require maintenance?

A little. Overall, solar is a very stable investment: the sun shines a similar amount every year, so you should generate a consistent amount of solar energy.

All reputable installers will provide a complete monitoring system with commercial solar PV. If you notice that your generation levels are not as they should be, you could benefit from a little operations and maintenance service. Solar panels are very safe, with long term warranties. However, occasional faults do happen.

Dirt and grime on the surface on a panel can also affect its performance. If light can’t reach the silicon cell within, the panel cannot generate solar energy. Since the UK receives a high amount of rainfall, most solar panels don’t need cleaning regularly. However, if your business’s operations are particularly ‘messy’ (think agriculture, livestock, or certain manufacture) your panels may need annual cleaning.

Check out our guide to solar panel cleaning and servicing for more information.

 

Are there any negatives?

While solar will save you money overall, you need the cash flow available upfront to invest. Of course, you can negate this with a PPA, but these provide smaller financial savings.

As we discussed above, solar panels do require a little maintenance. If you’re a CapEx customer, you’ll have to arrange (and pay for) this yourself. PPA customers, on the other hand,  typically have cleaning and maintenance included in their contract with the installer.

And finally, installing CapEx solar can create a small increase in business rates. In these cases, solar is considered an asset that makes the property more valuable. However, this doesn’t apply to PPA solar customers: the solar PV is owned and managed by a separate entity, so the property owner isn’t liable.

 

Are commercial solar panels worth it?

Yes! However, you may need to weigh up the appropriateness of solar PV for your company, since some businesses are better candidates for solar than others. Remember that the more energy you use, the more you will save. And as energy prices inflate, this saving will only increase. Factors such as the pitch of your roof and orientation of your building also affect the generating potential of solar PV on your site.

While this article focuses more on the financial benefits of solar, let’s not forget the environmental ones. Without drastic intervention, our planet will continue to warm, and human life will alter irreparably. Any step we can take to cut our carbon footprint is a step towards safeguarding our planet for future generations. They may seem small, but together these steps add up.

Want to find out more?

Get in touch with a member of our dedicated sales team.

Solving the misconceptions around commercial EVs

Photo of two EVs and EV charger

EV Myths: busted

The number of electric vehicles (EVs) on our roads is growing fast. In March 2020, there were 273,500 EVs on UK roads (including hybrid and electric-only). Further stats show that 5.7% of new car registrations are electric vehicles, with 3.2% electric-only.

However, we have a way to go to meet the government’s targets: 50% of new car sales to be electric by 2030. This target is in line with the government’s strategy for cutting C02 emissions and tackling climate change.

When it comes to meeting international climate and carbon targets, we all have a part to play – especially businesses. For brands committed to fulfilling their environmental responsibilities, the course of the next year is the perfect time to explore the EV opportunity.

The Government offers several initiatives to encourage corporate uptake of EVs. Currently, employees are exempt from Benefit in Kind tax for fully electric company cars. All new EVs are subsidised, providing customers with a discount of up to £3,000. And, all businesses and household can receive a grant of up to £350 for every EV charge point they install.

While most charging takes place at home, around 30% of people charge their EV at work. As uptake in electric cars increases, businesses will find themselves under pressure to provide more charge points for employees. These government initiatives won’t last forever: the EV charge point grant has already reduced from £500 to £350. Futureproofing for the EV revolution now allows businesses to do so at the most affordable opportunity.

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of myths about commercial electric vehicles.

To set the record straight, we asked Andrew Verney – our EV charging consultant – to help us bust some common misconceptions about electric vehicles. Andrew has driven an electric vehicle for the last five years and is our trusted advisor on all EV installations.

 

EV range is not good enough for commercial use

When EVs were first developed, the limited battery capacity meant they were unsuitable for long journeys.

Now, most new EVs have a range of at least 150 miles between charges. Some, as much as 200-300 miles. Most car journeys are, of course, much shorter than this. According to the RAC Foundation, the average commute is just 10 miles in England and Wales.

Even for customers that regularly make longer journeys, a range of 150-200 miles should be enough, as the AA recommends all drivers stop for a 15-minute break every 2-3 hours. If you’re stopping anyway, you might as well charge your car for 30 minutes.

EV drivers do currently have to plan their routes more carefully than other car-owners. Not all service stations have facilities to charge EV vehicles yet – but this will change soon!

 

EVs are much more expensive

It is more expensive to buy a new EV: about 20% more than an equivalent fuel vehicle. But, new EVs are subsidised by the government to make them more affordable.

However, running an EV is around six times cheaper than a fuel car. While petrol or diesel costs around 12 pence per mile, you can charge your car overnight at home for two pence per mile. Most energy providers offer tariffs that give EV owners a good window to charge cheaply at night. Some public spaces even offer free EV charging.

Maintaining and servicing an electric car is also much cheaper. They only have about 5% of the same moving parts as a fuel car, so there’s simply less to maintain.

 

EVs take a long time to charge up

In most cases, charging an EV is something that takes place in the background. Unlike fuelling a car, you rarely go somewhere specifically to charge an electric vehicle. There are a range of different charging options, some of which take longer than others. However, the charging option (and speed) always suits charge point location.

The most popular option is home charging, usually overnight to make the most of cheaper energy tariffs. This is the cheapest option, but also the slowest: they charge at around 10-30mph. However, this slow speed is irrelevant, as you’d be at home with your vehicle anyway.

The quickest are ‘rapid’ chargers. These are usually located at service stations and ‘traditional fuelling stations. Operating at 50 kw+, these charge at a rate of 180mph or more.

Then there are ‘destination’ chargers. These are slower, but they are usually located in a place you might stay for a while. Again, the charging takes place in the background. For example, a supermarket or shopping centre. These 7-22kw chargers work at about 30-90mph. Businesses typically choose ‘rapid’ or ‘destination’ chargers.

EV charge technology is constantly advancing. Some ‘ultra-rapid’ public chargers are being installed in the UK that will provide 180 miles of charge in ten minutes.

 

There are not enough EV charge points

As previously mentioned, not all service stations feature EV charge points. As interest in EVs rises, public charge infrastructure will scale accordingly. While there are enough, more would be appreciated.

Most EVs come with Sat Nav to find charge points, but these systems are not wholly accurate. The directory is not exhaustive and cannot inform you if an EV charge point is out of order. This means many EV drivers rely on a mobile app to plot routes around EV chargers.

A flat battery is the biggest fear about EVs. However, it is just not that common. On all the major trunk roads, you’re never more than 50 miles away from an EV charge point. Plus, every EV comes with a cable that can be plugged in to charge at a normal 13-amp house socket. In an emergency, you can technically charge at any building – provided the cable reaches.  Take a look at Zap-Map to see over 30,000 public charging sockets across the UK.

 

EVs are unsuitable for a commercial fleet

Currently, there’s not much choice for electric vans and trucks. A wider range of options will emerge in the next year.

Infrastructure changes are also required. Employees who take a company van home would need to charge the EV at their property. With at least 20% of the population lacking off-street parking, this poses a potential challenge. Employers would also need to reimburse employees for charging their EV from their home energy supply.

For travelling tradespeople, there’s also the issue of charging at their destination (where necessary). There’s currently not a lot of on-street public charge points available, although this will increase shortly.  RenEnergy is working to fit EV charge points into Council car parks, where they can be used overnight by local residents who don’t have access to a personal charge point.

For now, EVs are more suitable for ‘last-mile delivery’. Many delivery drivers travel less than 100 miles per day and often return their vehicles to a depot overnight: perfect for EV charging. EVs are also more efficient for journeys that require a lot of stop-starting (such as deliveries): an electric engine completely stops when it is not in use. This means no idling and much less pollution.

Gloucestershire Constabulary is already embracing the potential of EVs. They have the largest electric fleet in the country: 21% of their fleet is fully electric.

 

EVs are unsuitable for commuters

Again, this is untrue. Unless your commute is over 50 miles each way, you should be able to comfortably commute on a fully charged EV battery.

More businesses are installing on-site EV chargers to meet employee demand – especially large companies. Remember, businesses can also receive the £350 grant for each EV charge point they install.

One thing that companies will need to negotiate is how they bill staff for the electricity to charge their vehicles. We expect that most businesses will charge employees through an app or card, just to cover the energy costs and maintaining charge points.  Some employers are offering free electricity to staff, and RenEnergy is working to install EV charging in solar carports, to help provide the renewable electricity required.

 

EVs are unpleasant to drive

Personally, I disagree. They’re much smoother and easier to drive.

They’re also much smarter than a normal car. On a cold winter’s morning, you can warm your car via an app on your phone, before you’ve even got out of bed. And when you’re in your house at night, you can check your app to ensure your car is plugged in and charging.

This level of communication is beneficial if you have solar panels. If your home array is generating a surplus of energy that would otherwise go back to the grid, you can choose to use this energy to charge your car. If not, the system knows to charge the car only using the cheap overnight grid energy.

After five years, I’m a true EV convert: I can’t imagine going back to a ‘normal’ car now.

 

Want to find out? Check out our EV charging page or get in touch with Andrew.

Your guide to Power Purchase Agreements

Photo of Briar Chemicals solar panels installed under PPA

PPAs explained

In uncertain times, making a large business investment may be the last thing on decision-makers minds’. Although solar PV offers significant long-term benefits and saving, it is rarely an essential operational expense.

However, there is an option for businesses that wish to adopt cost-effective and environmentally friendly energy without making any upfront investment. A Power Purchase Agreement provides businesses with solar electricity at a lower-than-market rate. It is the perfect option for environmentally conscious businesses that are looking to reduce their running costs but don’t have the spare budget to invest upfront.

 

What is a Power Purchase Agreement for solar?

Power purchase agreements are a funding option that allows businesses to benefit from ‘free’ solar panels.

The most traditional funding option for solar panels is CapEx. A business pays for its own solar, which is installed on their property. The business then uses self-generated solar energy, reducing their energy spend. If any extra energy is needed, it is drawn from the grid as usual.

A Power Purchase Agreement works differently. In this case, the installer enters into a long-term lease agreement with the customer, ‘renting’ the customer’s roof or ground space for a nominal fee. They then install solar panels, at no expense to the customer. Once completed, the customer then purchases their solar energy from the installer at a reduced rate.

At the end of the lease, ownership of the panels transfers to the customer. This is usually around 20-25 years, but solar PV arrays have a useful lifespan of up to 40 years. That means totally free, clean energy for the remaining 15-20-year life.

PPA solar is generated in exactly the same way as CapEx, and the installation process is the same too. The only difference is that the customer acts as the landlord, and does not own their solar panels until the end of the agreed PPA term.

 

 

What are the benefits of a PPA?

Like all solar PV installations, a PPA solar can significantly reduce your energy spend. Your installer will always sell the solar energy at a price cheaper than the market rate for grid energy. Additionally, a PPA can safeguard your business long-term against energy price hikes. The cost of energy is always rising, but this protects your business from erratic market fluctuations.

Reducing your business’s energy spend in turn helps to improve your company’s bottom line. For businesses with tight profit margins, this is incredibly valuable. It also frees up budget to invest in growth elsewhere.

One benefit of a PPA that does not apply to CapEx customers, is the exemption of business rates for solar. Unfortunately, some customers that buy and install solar on their premises are subject to an increase in business rates. The solar is seen as an asset, and makes the property more valuable. Since the government alleges to support businesses going green, we can only hope this anomaly is rectified soon. However, businesses can negotiate this by achieving solar through a PPA. The solar asset is owned by a separate entity, so the customer is not liable for an increase in rates.

Of course, the benefits of a PPA stretch beyond finance. Customers now favour sustainable brands, and will even pay more for products that are environmentally friendly. Solar panels are a very visible indicator of your company’s commitment to our planet. Your business’s green credentials could be what distinguishes your company from a competitor.

Like all investments, solar performs much better when it is carefully managed: that means thorough cleaning and servicing. While CapEx customers must arrange and finance operations and maintenance services for their own solar panels, this is included within PPA packages. This means customers benefit from regular panel cleaning and maintenance, reassured that their array is generating at its maximum capacity.

 

 

Anything else to know about Power Purchase Agreements

We’re always up-front with our customers: a Power Purchase Agreement will not save your business as much money in the short term as owning your own PV system. However, if your business cannot justify the upfront expense and ongoing running costs a power purchase agreement is a great option. Much better than no solar at all!

There are no minimum energy usage requirements on our PPAs. This means they can suitable for businesses of all sizes, with any energy usage profile. However, sites with large annual energy consumption will stand to save the most money and carbon.

And finally, rest assured that Power Purchase Agreements are flexible and non-binding. Should your business move away from its current premises, the PPA can be transferred to the new occupants with ease.

 

 

PPA case study: Briar Chemicals

We partnered with Briar Chemicals to provide a large-scale ground array through a power purchase agreement.

Based in Norwich, Briar Chemicals is committed to providing high-quality chemical products in an environmentally friendly way. With profit margins tight in the manufacturing sector, a PPA provided a sustainable option for the business to improve its bottom line.

The 1.9 MW array features 6,500 solar panels and 76 inverters. Each year, the system generates 1,800,000 kWh of electricity: enough to power 400 homes. It also saves 860,000 kg of C02. Over 70% of the electricity is consumed on-site and the rest is exported elsewhere, easing pressure on the local energy grid.

It was our pleasure to work with this iconic local brand, and we’re pleased to say Briar Chemicals were impressed with the results.

Tim Green, Executive Director and Site Manager said: “This is an exciting project; it will allow us to use power generated from the sun and use it within our manufacturing processes.  This will enable us to focus on the production of cost-effective high-quality chemicals, knowing that we are doing so in an extremely environmentally friendly way.”

 

For more information, check out our PPA product page, or get in touch.

Why do I need a technical feasibility study for my solar panels?

Site survey documents for technical feasibility study

What is a technical feasibility study?

Installing solar panels isn’t a complicated process: especially if you have over 15 years’ experience (like us). However, there’s more to it than just sticking some solar panels to a roof. Especially when you consider large scale commercial solar PV and solar carports.

In order for our installations to be as safe and effective as possible, we complete thorough technical feasibility studies before we start installing. While this does lengthen the lead time for a project, we always factor in these tests before agreeing to any timescales. We think that being upfront about this process helps us to deliver on time and to budget.

 

What’s included in a technical feasibility study for solar?

Technical feasibility studies vary, depending on the scope of your installation. The explanations below describe some of the common tests conducted in a feasibility study. Not all solar installations will require every single test listed below: this is just an indicative guide.

Our projects vary because each of them is bespoke. The exact feasibility studies required will depend on the specifics of the site. More complex projects may require further tests. Your project manager will advise on the specifics of your installation.

When preparing a financial estimate for a customer, we outline the cost of the feasibility studies separately to financially protect customers. We do not ask customers to pay a deposit based on a proportion of the total cost. Sometimes, installation plans change following the results of the feasibility study, so this ensures the customer never ends up out of pocket.

 

G99: Permit to connect to the local distribution network

Almost all commercial solar PV arrays will require a G99 Permit. This provides permission for a solar installation to connect to the grid.

We manage the G99 permit application to the Distribution Network Operator (DNO) on behalf of the client. This includes preparing the application form and associated documentation, as well as liaising with the DNO.

 

Technical site surveys

The number and complexity of the on-site surveys required will depend on location, the complexity of the site and install.  For example, a solar carport will require more in-depth surveys than a roof-top installation. However, every install will require some form of on-site technical site survey.

Surveys may include:

  • Topographical survey: Highlights any difference between the true levels and gradients of the land at the project site, and those presupposed in preliminary designs. A good topographical survey ensures durable construction.
  • Utilities survey: Allows underground utility locations to be supplied as a CAD drawing referencing a digital topographical survey to be used in the detailed design where piling is required.
  • Pull-out tests: Assesses whether the existing substrate can accommodate the wind loading associated with the solar carport.
    Structural survey and reporting: Ensure the existing roof can accommodate the additional loading of the solar panels and ballast.

Planning

Planning permission is required for ground-mounted arrays, solar carports and if your planned install is located within the curtilage of a listed building.  RenEnergy has an in-house expertise to manage the planning process on behalf of our clients with 100% success rate on all our applications.

 

Detailed design

The findings of the technical site surveys, will inform the detailed design of your proposed installation, including:

  • System sizing in terms of generating capacity, physical size, location and orientation of major components.
  • Detailed specification of major components allowing an accurate capital cost for the systems to be calculated, including yield and ROI (Return on Investment) analysis.

 

Technical feasibility studies: part of the package

RenEnergy prides itself on the quality and performance of our installs.  A comprehensive technical feasibility study ensures that this is the case.

To ensure our projects are as smooth as possible, we work with an in-house team of technical consultants to arrange any technical feasibility studies as required. After conducting a thorough assessment of your business, our consultants will present you with the best option for your energy needs.

Get in touch to find out more about technical consultancy and commercial solar PV from RenEnergy.

Why should I get my solar PV system serviced and cleaned?

photo of solar panel service and cleaning in East Anglia

Does my solar PV system need a service?

Solar panels are a hardy and long-lasting product. They need to be, as they’re constantly exposed to the elements. Once installed, most solar panels will generate indefinitely, with little to no input from the customer. That’s why solar is such a safe investment.

However, like all investments, solar performs best when it is carefully managed and maintained. A solar array that’s generating at its maximum capacity saves customers the most money and provides the best return on investment.

Keep reading for more reasons why your solar panels could benefit from an operations and maintenance service.

 

Solar panel servicing protects your stable investment

No business exists in a vacuum. World events can create a big impact on a company: from disrupted supply chains to market instability. Something could happen tomorrow that throws your business completely off-kilter.

But no matter what’s going on in the world, the sun will keep shining. Global weather patterns may be shifting due to climate change, but the UK still receives a similar amount of sunshine every year. If your business has solar panels, that equates to a predictable return on investment annually.

 

You could be missing FiT payments

If your solar array was installed under the Feed-In Tariff (FiT) scheme, you may be eligible to receive monthly payments for any unused electricity you sell back to the grid.

But, if your solar is not performing as it should, you could be missing out on FiT payments. Less energy generated means less spare energy exported back to the grid. FiT payments can provide an additional revenue stream for businesses, without any additional effort or overheads. This is a valuable opportunity for companies to improve their bottom line, and increase profitability.

 

A solar PV service ensures your system is working

We speak to a lot of business owners who judge whether their solar is working from their bank statements. As long as they’re receiving their FiT payments, they assume it’s performing as it should. And so it might be. But, the only way to know for sure is through a remote monitoring system.

As a best practice, we routinely install remote monitoring systems with all our solar arrays. However, older arrays or systems not installed by us may not have this.

Just because you’re receiving a FiT payment doesn’t mean your system is performing at its peak. You could be receiving just a fraction of the payment you’d be entitled to, was your system generating correctly.

Remote monitoring provides a full picture of energy generated, as well as an important indicator of any faults in the system. Our operations and maintenance team can check this from the office, and dispatch an engineer to carry out repairs if needed.

 

Some PV arrays need more cleaning than others

Solar panels generate electricity when sunlight hits a wafer of silicon cells contained within it. If the surface of the panel is very dirty, light cannot reach the silicon and the panel cannot generate electricity.

Since the UK receives plenty of rainfall, most solar panels are regularly rinsed and this is enough to keep them performing efficiently. However, customers who work in particularly dirty industries may need a deeper clean. For example, agricultural and manufacturing businesses may experience more heavily-soiled panels. Our O&M team has all the necessary equipment and training to clean roof and ground panels safely and effectively.

Customers in rural areas may also require more maintenance than urban businesses. Nesting birds, pests, and overhanging trees can all hinder the performance of solar panels.

 

A lot can change in a decade

Over the last ten years, the popularity of solar has really taken off. Businesses might have solar systems that are easily 9-10 years old, without ever having serviced or assessed them.

You wouldn’t have any other piece of business equipment that you didn’t service or monitor for ten years, so why would you do it with the thing that produces your electricity? Ten years is plenty of time for panels to become dirty, or experience wear and tear. Even factors like tree growth could affect the performance of your panels and should be assessed.

 

Partner in power for your PV installation and service

We provide operations and maintenance servicing for a number of agricultural, industrial, and corporate customers. Our services include:

  • Remote system monitoring
  • Technical telephone support
  • Quarterly performance reports
  • FiT assessments
  • Cleaning services
  • Maintenance and repairs
  • Inverter servicing

For more information, visit our servicing webpage, or get in touch.