Insight 26 January 2023

Installing solar panels on your commercial building roof? Here’s everything you need to know

Concerns over the security of supply, rising costs, and the need to decarbonise environments have quickly and permanently transformed our energy landscape.

In the last year it has become increasingly clear that the way power is generated, purchased, and distributed today is not sustainable. Global supply chains have created a system that is simply too unstable to provide security in terms of supply and cost. And our reliance on fossil fuels is increasingly considered too damaging to an environment that’s already at breaking point.

Simply put, now is the time to look at the alternatives. Because if we can be sure of anything, it’s that the disruptions of the last year will probably happen again.

This is a great opportunity for commercial building owners to take advantage of cheap, clean, and sustainable energy sources. Solar PV is one of the most reliable investments in a turbulent market.

You probably already know the many benefits of having solar panels on commercial rooftops – from energy security and lower costs to reduced risk and added value for your portfolio. You may even have decided that this is the way forward for you. But you might be less clear on what to do next and what to look for in a renewable energy partner.

Sunrise or sunset being reflected over dark solar panels
Solar panels can significantly reduce energy costs

What to consider for your commercial rooftop solar installations

Your specialist partner can help with the process of gaining commercial solar panel planning permission and accessing the right commercial solar panel grants. They can also design the configuration of your array, install it, and carry out the necessary maintenance and repairs.

Since 2010, Mitie has developed, designed and installed, some of the largest commercial solar roof projects in the UK. And we’ve worked in some challenging environments. Our specialists know this world inside out, which is why we’re perfectly placed to guide you in your search for a new clean energy provider.

Commercial solar installations are a lot for an organisation to take on. The process can be time-consuming and needs specialist knowledge so it’s always best to work with expert partners who know their way around.

Design and installation of your solar PV

The design and installation of solar is more than a two-step process. You must begin with a thorough understanding of your consumption, a clear idea of your goals, and a knowledge of the opportunity solar presents. You then need someone who can help you design the best system to meet these needs in your specific environment. And, trust us, this varies hugely from job to job.

You must consider planning restrictions, cabling solutions, safety measures and so much more. As a result, every solar installation is different so you need to make sure your partner has a breadth of experience working in different environments.

Remote monitoring for maximum performance

Once everything is in place, you need assurance that your solar panels are performing at their best to provide the maximum ROI. A good partner will use digital technology to remotely monitor your energy generation and identify any panels that are not performing at full capacity.

Maintenance and repair

Of course, there’s no point monitoring if you’re not going to use the data to take any necessary action. Commercial solar panel maintenance and repair is essential in reducing preventable downtime, ensuring your energy needs are met, and maximising ROI.

In most instances, this will include:

  • Professional cleaning to remove dirt and debris from your panels and optimise their performance.
  • Maintenance on inverters to optimise generation.
  • Regular checks to mountings, electronics, fixtures and fittings to keep panels secure, safe and operational.

End-to-end delivery for consistency

At Mitie, we know from our own experience that a successful commercial solar project benefits hugely from end-to-end design and delivery services. A specialist partner, with expertise at each stage, from initial planning to installation and maintenance, can simplify the process.

After all, who better to monitor, service, and repair your solar infrastructure than the people who designed it, installed it, and know its every intricacy?

Solar Panel Field
Mitie has developed, designed and installed, some of the largest commercial solar roof projects in the UK

How Mitie helps organisations embrace solar power

Our work helping organisations to decarbonise and embrace sustainable energy has seen us install solar arrays for some of the biggest brands in Britain. On behalf of our customers, we’ve been on the rooftops of supermarkets, warehouses, council buildings, carparks and transport terminals, and everything in between.

Powering our ports

Our recent work includes two projects with Associated British Ports (ABP), the UK’s leading port operator. ABP contributes billions to the British economy through a unique network of 21 ports, nationwide. The operator has a policy to deliver renewable technology to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

In 2018, we delivered a 1MWp solar project across six operational buildings at the Port of Southampton, including the 500kWp installation on the UK’s largest terminal. Our specialists began with extensive harmonic studies to satisfy the requirements of the District Network Operator.

Today, we provide full maintenance and annual servicing of the solar PV systems, including remote live monitoring, for the port. In total, the system has outperformed predicted yields by 10%.

Following the success of this project, we’ve also installed a 6.5MWp solar system, made up of 21,000 solar panels, across the rooftops of terminals at the Port of Hull. The system now generates enough electricity, at its peak, for the port to run on clean energy alone.

Overcoming the challenges

Every commercial solar project has its own specific challenges. The Port of Hull project happened at the particularly challenging time of the Covid-19 outbreak. Also, we had to work with a building over 350 metres long, which required permanent pathways to be built to prevent surface damage from the installation. It also needed a specialist approach to cabling to prevent overheating.

The positive thing about overcoming complexity, however, is that it can yield generous rewards. After two years of planning, the £6.8 million investment became the UK’s largest rooftop solar installation. And, in 2020, it received the accolade of the Solar and Storage Awards: Commercial Project of the Year.

As with Southampton, we operate and maintain the systems across the port, providing live monitoring, full reactive maintenance and annual scheduled servicing.

If you’re ready for solar, get in touch

If your organisation is about to make the leap to solar, and you want to know the difference a clean energy partner can make, get in touch.

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