New checklist aims to boost solar across UK commercial rooftops

The Solar Trade Association has published a simple and clear checklist [1] to give managers in commerce and industry the confidence to put solar on their roofs.

Commercial and industrial roofs dominate the solar market in Europe, but in the UK commercial roofs account for only 5% of all solar deployment to date. However, as part of DECC's 2014 Solar PV Strategy [2], the emphasis is now changing significantly towards boosting rooftop installations and the STA and its members are working closely with Government to help unlock the huge potential across the UK.


The small commercial roofs sub-market (50kW-250kW) is growing steadily but slowly, with 170MW installed in total across 1200 installations. One of the limiting factors to the market is commercial awareness and confidence from rooftop owners who need reliable guidance. The government focus on this sector and the STA work to support, identify and break down barriers, is now showing signs of significant growth in this market: the first quarter of 2015 saw deployment double compared to the first quarter of 2014.

However, the latest DECC data shows there are only 70 larger-scale (250kW+) solar roofs installed across the UK, and this is where more focus and support is required to tackle the limited deployment. More high profile schemes like the Jaguar Land Rover and BMW car factory roofs are needed.

Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association said:

"From Apple and Amazon to Marks & Spencer and Walmart, many well-known companies are going solar to reduce their carbon footprint and because they want the reliable and clean power supply solar provides during work hours. Many companies want to follow suit, and if we can help them to identify competent contractors then we will have more UK success stories. We hope our Confidence Checklist will empower more commercial sector managers to install solar on the roofs of their company premises."

Welcoming the initiative, Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom MP said:

"Solar is an integral part of the UK's energy mix. It's great to see industry initiatives like this boosting confidence and take-up, so hardworking families and businesses can benefit from low-carbon energy and lower bills."

The checklist, which can be downloaded from the STA website, is applicable to all size of commercial rooftop installation from schools and small businesses to large supermarkets and factories. Solar has been installed on a huge range of structures across the UK including bridges, airports, city skyscrapers, railway station roofs, car parks and even motorway sound barriers. Solar can also be integrated in to buildings, embedded in glass as windows, and also included as a vertical building façade.

The Solar Trade Association's Technical Specialist Chris Roberts, who developed the checklist in partnership with STA members said:

"Speaking to our members and interested commercial companies, it is clear that many commercial managers will benefit from guidance to help them navigate the installation of a solar scheme, which can be complex. Much of the currently guidance is simply too technical. Managers want to know how to identify a quality contractor to work with. Our checklist helps them to do this, and to monitor the project effectively as it proceeds."

The STA has previously identified administrative barriers to the incorporation of solar power on commercial premises. Government is acting to remove several of these, including permitted development rights for solar up to 1MW (meaning it will not need planning permission) and the ability to shift rooftop schemes if companies move premises.

Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association, said:

"We need more ambitious rooftop targets and changes to the policy framework by Government to ensure commercial rooftop solar can fulfil its potential in future, but there is no reason why companies cannot take the initiative to go solar today. We hope that our Commercial Rooftop Solar Confidence Checklist will give a little push to companies that have been thinking about going solar to take the plunge. If they follow our advice, it's a move they won't regret."

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