Solar panels have long been a fantastic investment for businesses looking to secure their energy future, reduce operational costs and make a positive impact on the environment. Despite the benefits, there have historically been barriers which might have prevented some businesses from being able to get their solar panels up and running.

In this article, we look at some of the benefits of solar power for businesses, and how three new policy announcements make investing in solar energy even easier.

What are the benefits of solar power for businesses?

On site solar power brings many benefits for businesses. Here are three of the main benefits.

Reduce operational costs: Generating your own clean electricity on site can drastically reduce your bills, as you’ll rely less on electricity from the grid.

Given the recent high cost of electricity driven by volatile gas prices, this is the case now more than ever. What’s more, it provides a new revenue stream for businesses to sell any power they don’t use on site to suppliers like Good Energy.

Enhance energy security: Solar energy can also provide businesses with more energy security, protecting them to a degree from volatile pricing and providing greater certainty over energy costs for the future.

Align the business with net zero: Investing in solar energy can align your business with net zero. It signals to customers, employees, and stakeholders that the business is committed to sustainability and reducing its carbon footprint. This can enhance brand reputation and potentially attract environmentally conscious consumers.

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New policy announcements make investing in solar power easier

In the last six months , the Government have made several policy changes that make investing in solar panels make better commercial sense for businesses.

1. Capital expenditure of solar panels can now be expensed

The up-front cost of installing solar panels can be a problem for many businesses. From March 2023 last year, the ‘super-deduction’ capital allowances relief, which had enabled businesses to invest in additional plant and machinery assets, came to an end.

In its place, the government introduced ‘full expensing’ on a temporary basis in the 2023 spring budget but took the step in November 2023 to make this permanent. This allows organisations to deduct 50% of the cost of solar from their profits before paying Corporation Tax – essentially reducing the in-year cost of the installation by 25%.

2. Planning permission for businesses looking to install over 1MW of solar has been scrapped

Delays in the approval of planning permission can often hamper the progress of those trying to invest in low carbon technologies, and solar is no exception.

To help rectify this, the government have announced changes to rules which will scrap the requirement for planning permission, which previously existed for businesses wishing to install more than 1MW of capacity. This will save time – the government say more than eight weeks – and money.

The chancellor has also pledged to introduce a mechanism which would allow businesses to pay for their application to be processed within a given amount of time, with money back guaranteed if they should fail to do so.

3. Connecting to the grid should now be faster

When building renewable generation assets, it can often be necessary to have an upgraded or entirely new connection to the grid. This has also historically been a key driver of delays to the installation of new solar capacity.

However, there is a lot being done behind the scenes to try to improve the way grid connections are managed, which should allow developers who are ready to connect to benefit from their new, low carbon generation as soon as possible.

Ofgem, the energy regulator, are implementing changes which will stop speculative applications and ‘zombie projects’ (projects which have been stalled for a long time) from jamming up the ‘queue’ to connect to the grid.

Now’s the time to invest in solar power

The landscape for investing in solar energy in the UK has seldom been more promising. Positive changes in government policy are lowering the barriers to adopting solar technology, making it an opportune moment for businesses to act.

Investing in solar now not only aligns with our net zero goals but also offers a hedge against future energy cost uncertainties, providing a tangible way to reduce operational costs, while showcasing a commitment to environmental stewardship.

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