Solar so good: proving that small scale solar PV works
Date of Article
May 17 2013

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Solar Photovoltaic (solar PV) is a renewable energy technology which remains supported by the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) scheme. While large scale projects attract the headlines, more and more small scale schemes are coming through to prove their worth for owners.

City centre apartment block
The client was looking for a way to reduce energy costs in communal areas and common parts which included four, passenger lifts. Carter Jonas advise on a solar PV rooftop scheme means that the client is looking to pay a dividend to the flat owners, rather than the owners just looking at a reduced maintenance charge for the communal areas.

In a recent speech, the Minister of State for Climate Change, the Rt Hon Gregory Barker MP, asserted that the Coalition Government's commitment to putting Solar Photovoltaic at the heart of the UK's energy mix.

The Minister also described solar PV as "…increasingly affordable.." referencing that fact that a revised subsidy structure would give "higher levels of support to building-mounted solar PV."

Solar PV product prices have been reducing at a time when the consumer retail prices are rising – putting solar PV energy generators in a keen position when it comes to exporting energy to the grid, benefiting from an increase in wholesale costs now and on the horizon.

Commercial premises roof space
As well as assessing the viability of placing a 50kW scheme for the client, Carter Jonas conducted the tendering for an engineering procurement and construction contractor, secured relevant planning permission and grid consent. We were retained beyond the appointment of the contractor to manage the work through to its successful conclusion.

A typical 50kW (kilowatt) system can come in well below £55,000 with scope for returns of 10 per cent, rising to 15 per cent or more when considering energy savings too.

We're finding that for clients with 300 sq m of south-facing ground or roof space, solar PV is proving the renewable energy technology of choice as a quick and cost effective investment with the benefit of reducing on-site energy costs.

Unlike other technologies available in the sector, there is minimal development and, in most cases, no contentious planning hurdles to overcome.

Solar PV schemes can provide a good source of income during their lifespan.

Series of agricultural roofs
Assessment of a number of roofs for the provision of a 200kW array of installations was the fist part of a brief for a client which meant Carter Jonas obtained planning and grid consents and managed the approved contractor.

Carter Jonas – whose energy and marine team has been operational in the sector since 2006 – has a proven track record in bringing forward solar PV schemes to meet clients' needs in varied land and property settings

Our established property and land credentials put us as central to pulling projects together for clients. Looking at solar PV schemes, we like to get in from the beginning.

Local authority farms
A feasibility study, undertaken as part of a new framework agreement between Carter Jonas and a county council client, assessed the deployment of ground-mounted solar PV schemes as the most suitable renewable energy technology for on-farm locations at either end of the county. Playing a quality control role saw us overseeing the installation of the schemes which power various operations on the two fruit farms.

Grid connectivity remains as one of the most fundamental elements to a solar PV project.

Feasibility studies and project appraisals mean clients see us as the lynchpin in managing both the tender process and the construction work and any associated development matters.

We remain at the heart of the project in dealing with the minutiae of agreements with engineering contractors and the distribution network operator – ie the central grid – on behalf of clients.

At a more strategic level, our network of professional contacts can be called upon when it comes to capital funding.

Institutional landowner
A current project for one of the country's leading landowners, sees Carter Jonas concluding an initial feasibility study on two landholdings of circa 12,000 acres for 7 possible solar PV rooftop schemes on agricultural buildings. Detailed enquiries with the distribution network operator, planning authorities and agricultural tenants are ongoing and are key in us progressing this project on behalf of the client who retains our services on a number of land and property matters.

And, having been advising land and property owners on all the renewable energy technology options for as long as we have, we're plugged-in to the sector's key developers – large or small.

We're in a position to advise on many aspects to make sure that solar PV projects carry on proving their worth for private, commercial, statutory or institutional clients.

To find out more about small scale solar PV scheme viability on land or property you own, contact the Carter Jonas team in the Eastern Region.Solar PV Client Site