Solar panels have, in recent years, shed some misinformed arguments that seemed to surround them. They’ve proven their worth for residential and commercial purposes having also shown how beneficial they can be for the environment.
Whether you’re an SME or big business, there are numerous reasons to invest. The rising (and set to continue rising), unstable costs of traditional energy is obviously a major prod, while significant savings, alongside being a positive branding move can be a major coup for your business. Globally recognised companies such as Facebook and Amazon have pledged to be entirely green by 2025 with progressive companies based in Ireland such as Flahavan’s and Lidl leading the charge on home soil.
With many of the major energy providers predicting ongoing price increases and volatility, Solar PV panels make financial forecasting more manageable. Another important item to remember is that currently the Irish National Grid is under extreme pressure to generate enough supply for the demand which calls into question your business’s energy security. Solar allows you to navigate through the energy industry with relative reliability.
With targets in place along the way, such as reducing carbon emissions 51% by 2030, Ireland plans to achieve a climate neutral economy by 2050. To do this there’s incentives in place. Government is providing solar grants to businesses to encourage the migration from traditional electricity to sustainable sources. At Caldor, we can advise you on the business grants and tax write offs currently available in Ireland and set you on a path to being an energy efficient business with added value and reduced running costs.
BETTER ENERGY COMMUNITIES
For SMEs, the most availed of grant is the Better Energy Communities scheme which encourages you to join forces with other organisations in your local area in order to receive a grant of up to 30%. Caldor assists in sourcing & arranging funding for clients who wish to undertake a project under this scheme.
Read about BEC and how to apply on the SEAI website.
For large companies, Exceed is also an option though the application process is more complex. The grant rate is the same at 30% but is not suitable for small businesses. You can apply for one or the other, but not both.
Read about EXEED and how to apply on the SEAI website.
In addition to the SEAI grants, you can also claim the Accelerated Capital Allowance (ACA) on solar panel investments. This allows you to recoup 12.5% on your investment as corporation tax savings. The combination of the SEAI grant and the ACA is a significant financial incentive.
Read more about the Accelerated Capital Allowance.
In addition to Government grants and Tax rebates, Enterprise Ireland have the following financial supports for businesses going green:
CLIMATE ACTION VOUCHER
Eligible companies can secure a Climate Action voucher to the value of €1,800 which covers technical or advisory services relating to business operations.
GREEN START GRANT
Your company can cover the costs of hiring a green consultant to the value of up to €5,000. They can advise on best practice across your company structure and help imply cost reduction targets while building a foundation for future environmental improvement projects.
If your company is eligible you can apply for the GreenPlus Grant which can fund up to 50% of your climate change and sustainability plan. This can be used to cover the salaries of up to 10 green project team members.
Here’s a list of case studies that have already received support from Enterprise Ireland.
SOLAR ENERGY IS RELIABLE
If you’re concerned about reliability, Solar energy is one of the most reliable sources of natural energy. Yes, even in Ireland. It doesn’t matter if the sun isn’t directly beaming on the panels, different parts of the sun’s light spectrum are still being absorbed and utilised to produce power. The most important part is light, not heat.
While the volume of light hitting your panels will impact your energy yield, it’s still a reliable and efficient energy source. As you might expect, during winter months, solar panels won’t work to the same capacity as in lighter, brighter months. However, that just means your reliance on the panels during those months will be less.
A SAFE SOURCE
In the oil, coal and gas industries there is always a certain risk in the production process. Nuclear energy is an example of an industry we’re all familiar with in terms of the associated dangers. Solar panels on the other hand are made from silicon and free of hazardous materials making them a very safe source of power.
REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT, INCREASE YOUR GREEN CREDENTIALS
If you turn to producing your own green energy, your CO2 emissions will drop, reducing your carbon footprint at the same time increasing your sustainable credentials. This is a brilliant way of actively showcasing your green values.
It’s also important to waylay any concerns that there must be serious maintenance costs to keep your panels operating to capacity. Once installed, there is very little involved in keeping them in fine fettle. There are no moving parts so with a cursory clean and occasional professional check ups to ensure there’s no debris or obstruction to the panels you’ll keep producing your clean, reliable energy.
So what’s the first step to take in order to look into the feasibility of solar for your business? Talk to us. We encourage an initial desktop survey and analysis of your business which can be arranged after a phone consultation. This allows us to already have a good idea of what will work for your site.
Once this has been determined a site visit is organised to confirm the requirements and go through every element in more detail so that the system can be further refined.
These assessments will take into account the following:
Electricity consumption: this will involve a detailed analysis of your current energy bills to understand your company needs. If you come armed with 12 months of utility bills, that will benefit your investigations from the offset.
Site infrastructure: How many panels could fit on your roof and how many could it support?
Location: How many hours of light does your site have access to per day on average? Is your site hard to reach?
THERE ARE OPTIONS
With Caldor, there are two ways in which we provide commercial solar systems
- BUY YOUR SYSTEM OUTRIGHT:
Your company can purchase the system outright, own the panels and reap the rewards.
- POWER PURCHASE AGREEMENT (PPA)
You can enter a power purchase agreement (PPA) whereby you essentially rent the panels from Caldor but secure a fixed energy rate for 10-20 years. This is suitable for businesses that don’t want to commit to a larger upfront cost and for smaller businesses who wish to transition but might not have the resources.
THE BASIC REQUIREMENTS
To start you off on the right foot, there are some items to bear in mind as to whether your business will be suitable for solar.
- Roof space (1m² will give approximately 200kWh / yr).
- Your roof must be stable and secure (our site visit will conduct a health and safety assessment).
- Solar panels need to be free from obstacles (trees, hills, buildings, etc) which would inhibit the panels ability to capture light
- flat or south sloping ground is optimal
- there must be access for initial construction and occasional maintenance
- That the space available allows your company to get it’s target ROI
- There must be no history or potential for flooding.
- There are conditional planning permission exemptions for commercial solar panels. For commercial and light industrial premises, you can install panels up to 50 m2 which can generate electricity to the value of somewhere in the region of 3,500 euros per year. For industrial buildings? There’s no limit. That said, should your location be in a conservation area, it’s likely that you may not be able to proceed. For more information relating to planning permission you might find this document useful.
- There must be a local connection to the electricity grid
This is a big decision for a company to make, it requires evaluation based on your current energy usage, your likely yield from solar panels and an understanding of the ROI. Start with the desktop survey, and give yourself a base on which to make an informed decision. Call us today on 012533349
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