Can you make money using commercial solar panels?

The ability to make energy from the sun is exciting and fruitful. Can the every day person make money by using commercial solar panels though?

commercial solar panels

Most people will now be aware of the benefits of using solar energy for the home. The ability to create electricity out of sunlight means you can regain your investment within 10-13 years, and then afterwards even make money off clean and renewable energy. The best thing is the improving technology means that solar panels are now a viable option in most parts of the UK.

The improving technology and the ability to generate electricity leads to the question about commercial solar panels? Can the ordinary man or woman create their own farm of commercial solar panels or do you need to be a very rich company to make money?

If you think the idea of starting your own solar farm is worth looking at you’ll need to know a bit more to get started.

What are commercial solar panels?

Commercial solar panels will unlikely differ from the panels you use at home, the only difference will come in size, scale and the ‘joints’. Therefore commercial solar panels are primarily a piece of modern technology that will take natural and boundless energy from the sun and convert into electricity, or in your case, money.

The only difference that you will notice is the importance of maximising output. At home you may put up with a tiny bit of shade from the tree next door, or not keep the panels as clean as you should do. If you want to make use of commercial solar panels you’ll need to maximise everything. This includes changing the position of your panels depending on the time of year, keeping a clear no obstruction sun trap and professionally cleaning your solar panels regularly.

Start up costs

As with many commercial investments the start up costs will vary significantly depending on the individual circumstances, a case by case basis.

What you will need to be concerned with is

  • Land
  • Equipment
  • Grid connection
  • Taxes
  • Business administration fees
  • Equipment maintenance

This is by no means an extensive list into the start up costs of using commercial solar panels but more a starting point for you to consider.

The most expensive costs will definitely be land, unless you are fortunate enough to be of a land owning family. So assuming you don’t have a large amount of land in stock waiting for this development, you face a crucial decision.

The options are few but in a way many. You can either buy or lease.

Buying Land

Buying land for commercial solar panels in the UK is expensive. There will be a very long wait for you and your partners to enjoy a return on investment but then you will avoid larger monthly fees and in practice have more cash flow available through this method.

Alternatively, there are countries in the world such as France and Spain which enjoy a lot more sunshine than the UK and the land is often a lot cheaper.

Both options come with high risk and often complicated processes and obstacles

Leasing land

Leasing land is perhaps the most viable option when planning to have commercial solar panels. Simply to avoid the hugely significant cost of purchasing the land.

Of course leasing land can come with its own complications, such as finding the land or plot, agreeing a deal with the landowner and getting planning permission.

A good idea is to approach farmers for an out for out lease on their land or a  for a partnership in commercial solar panels. The farmer provides the land and security and you provide the panels and maintenance.

Another option could be to go into industrial estates and either buy or lease an industrial unit. Then attach solar panels to the roofs (planning permission should be very easy to attain) and rent out the space below.

Case study

An example of using commercial solar panels effectively can be seen from this young American graduate. Admittedly he has received a lot of help from his lawyer father and his father’s land-owning friend but he has still taken the risk with commercial solar panels.

From reading the article you will find that the attempt can be deemed a success of sorts, they have had a few issues with tax rates but in turn have learnt a valuable lesson, to agree pre-negotiated tax deals.

These deals could be made because of renewable energy; there is a genuine desire from towns, councils, cities and governments to make renewable energy profitable and successful.

How to monetise

The monetising process is pretty simple. After the complicating and stressful start up all you have to do is connect to the grid and through feed-in tariffs sell your energy back to the grid. For those of you who don’t know how feed-in tariffs work, check out the energy saving trust to get started. For those of you who are hard-nosed negotiators trying going direct to an energy company for a better deal.

The idea is to obviously produce significantly more energy than you use to make money.

Conclusion

Good idea or not? It is always a good idea to make energy out of the sun, its renewable and free (aside from the equipment), so making money seems a great idea.

The start up costs are expensive but then it will more or less be a passive business, with your only work to secure good tariffs with a big energy company.

It will certainly be a great idea in the future but  in the present it will be hard work persuading people it is a good idea

It all comes down to two things,  if you like hard work and if you like change. You will need to want to work for the change yourself and make a difference and work hard. In the end it will all be worth it.

Image courtesy of Christina

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