SolarVentus now offer free solar panels in addition to wind turbines to non-domestic customers. They primarily provide free solar to farmers and landowners with a scheme that works in a similar way with the free solar panels being offered to domestic properties.
Many farmers particularly those with livestock, and in particular dairy farmers, poultry farms or other types of farm that consumes a large amount of electrical power would benefit greatly from having free solar installed. Farms tend to have large unused roof spaces then when facing south are ideal for solar energy generation. These large unused roof spaces if suitable for solar, could significantly reduce the running costs of a farm.
The size of the solar systems on offer range from 10kW up to 50kW which is up to 20 times larger than the typical domestic solar installation. An installation of this size would typically consist of between 55 and 275 individual panels and cover a roof area of between 72 and 361 square metres. The lower figure reflects the smallest system that they offer so you would need to have at least 72 square metres of free space on a south facing roof. Any system over 4kW usually requires access to a 3 phase supply.
You enter into a 25 year contract with SolarVentus and agree to have the panels installed on the roof of one of your farm buildings. They will cover the cost of the solar panels and provide maintenance, monitoring and insurance for the system in order to ensure that it runs effectively for those 25 years.
Once the system is installed it will generate electricity during daylight hours. You can use as much of the electricity at no cost for that 25 year period. A 10kW system would typically produce 8500kWh over the course of the year, most of which will be generated during the summer due to the longer days and increased light intensity. This is suitable for many farmers who generally have their busiest periods during the summer months.
Solar installers and investors are able to offer free systems to farmers as the installer will be able to claim back the governments feed-in tariffs that pays green energy producers for every kilowatt of power they generate. For larger systems on offer such as this the rates paid out are much lower than those for domestic installations and so the profit margin the installer has to work with is much lower. Over a 25 year period SolarVentus should be able to recover their costs and make a small profit.
Solar is best used where the electricity will be used at source during the day. This means if lots of electricity is used on the farm during the day the farmer will get the most benefit from it. At the cost of up to 13 pence per kilowatt you could potentially save a lot of money. You actual savings on your electricity bills will depend on how much electricity you use during the day and how much the panels are producing.
For much smaller domestic installations the accepted figure is up to about 40 percent on savings. By my calculations for the larger 50kW system that could mean a saving of over £2,000 a year. These are my estimated figures and not the figures of SolarVentus. It is difficult to estimate usage on a larger system as the amount of electricity used by individual farms varies so much. Generally however the more electricity that you use during the day the more you will save.
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Installing solar panels to produce electricity could earn you up to £1,200 a year. These payments are tax free, index-linked and guaranteed for 25 years.
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