About Solarbarn Farm, School & Commercial Solar PV Systems

For farms, a Solarbarn PV system is a superb way to generate extra income, for schools it’s the perfect way to get free daytime electricity and for factories it can generate substantial net profit—up to twice your initial investment.

As the cost of electricity continues to rocket, more and more local commercial enterprises are turning to solar power to provide their electricity, generate income from the Government’s Feed-in Tariff and, of course, cement their ‘green’ credentials. Increasingly, however, businesses are looking at Solar PV as a source of additional profit in itself. That’s because a typical 30kW system could generate as much as £70,000 in net profit over 20 years.

Here’s how a typical commercial system might pan out for you:

  • A typical 30kW commercial system could generate £150,000 profit for your company
  • Size of system: 30 kW
  • Cost of installation: £30,000
  • Annual tariff income: £2,030
  • Annual savings on electricity costs: £1,500 – £3,000
  • Year 1 total income and savings: £3,500 – £5,000
  • Tariff income guaranteed and inflation-proofed for: 20 years

It’s important to remember that the Feed-in Tariff pays you for all the electricity your company’s system generates, even if you use it all to power your business.  Any surplus power is exported to the distribution network. (To find our more about the current tariffs for business users, click on Latest Tariff at the foot of the page.)

Commercial-sized PV systems need to be authorised by your local Distribution Network Operator before installation. Solarbarn has an excellent relationship with DNOs and can facilitate this check swiftly and painlessly.

Commercial Solar PV: things to consider

Many schools, factories and farms have large roofs on warehouses, industrial units, barns and admin buildings which can often receive enough solar energy to offset a huge proportion of their daytime electricity needs. A large solar PV scheme can make an instant impact on a business’s electricity costs, provide a hedge against future electricity price rises and deliver a guaranteed income from the Feed-In Tariff. Here are some of the things you need to bear in mind when you’re considering a Solarbarn system.

1: The orientation and pitch of your roof

Agricultural buildings typically have low roof pitches of about 15º.  Although this is slightly less than ideal pitch for solar panels it does mean that orientation is less of an issue (the PV panels are facing the sky, rather than facing the horizon).  This means that East/West configurations of your Solarbarn system are viable.

2: Does the roof need strengthening or modifying to support the Solar PV system?

By no means all commercial roofs are suitable for the mounting of a Solar PV array without some modification. We regularly find that even brand-new builds often need their purlins strengthened to take the weight of solar panels.

That’s why we always commission an independent structural survey to ascertain whether the solar power system we’re proposing requires any modifications to your existing structure.

3: Does your proposed Solar PV system meet NFU insurance requirements?

If your farm is insured by the NFU, they will require an independent structural survey of the building to ensure it meets their standards for solar power installation. Naturally, Solarbarn will arrange this for you.

4: Get the correct mix of solar panels and fittings

Whether your roof is asbestos-cement, fibre-cement or trapezoida steel, it’s vital that the fittings used to mount your Solar PV array are suitable for both the roof’s construction and the type of solar panels selected. Solarbarn will ensure that the PV panels and fittings are correctly married to meet your specific needs—using specially manufactured brackets where appropriate.

And don’t forget the wind! A large solar power array on a high building may need double fitting at its edges to guarantee it isn’t vulnerable to high winds.

5: Your Solar PV system will need a formal DNO check

Your solar power system must be fully authorised by your local Distribution Network Operator BEFORE installation can commence. Happily, Solarbarn now has an excellent relationship with DNOs and can facilitate the check swiftly and painlessly.

6: The Solarbarn solar energy output forecast

Having established that your roof is suitable we’ll model the proposed Solar PV installation to forecast how much power the system will produce—based on its size, orientation, type of solar panels, and whereabouts you are in the country.

Over the last two years, Solarbarn Solar PV systems have actually outperformed our forecasts by 12% on average—underlining the fact that we always err on the side of caution when making our predictions.

7: Know your FITs from your ROCs

The overlap between the Feed-in tariffs and Renewable Obligation Certificate scheme can be confusing. We’ll ensure you’re signed up to the most appropriate and most lucrative scheme for your Solar PV installation.

8. Choosing your solar panels

Not all PV panels are the same—with substantially varying levels of quality, efficiency and price.   Generally, for farm & commercial installation we will recommend Suntech solar panels as these offer the best balance of cost vs performance.

We offer a range of alternative solar panels, however, from reputable manufacturers like Panasonic and Sharp.

Click here to find out more about individual panels

9. Monitor your output online

With solar energy systems of more than 10kW, we provide free online monitoring. Simply log in to your online dashboard and see how much solar power you’re making from minute to minute!

10: Planning issues

Commercial Solar PV arrays don’t need specific planning approval as long as they go no closer than one metre to the edge of the roof. If you’re planning a commercial-sized ground-mounted solar energy system, however, you will  need approval. Solarbarn will help you with this.