If your business has energy costs or carbon reduction on its management agenda, then you should be considering solar PV.

Unit costs for electricity are typically under 5p per kWh if you generate it yourself with solar, while most UK businesses are buying it from the grid at well over 20p*.

* Source: Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, Quarterly Energy Prices, December 2023.

Even before the current energy crisis that gap was widening. Now, with all the prevailing volatility, the benefits of self-generation are more compelling than ever.

And every addition to our renewable energy capacity also gets us a step closer to net zero.

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Cost &

Energy costs have been volatile and trending upwards for years. By late 2023 the average price paid by UK businesses was above 29p per kWh, with many paying a great deal more.

By contrast, our latest solar installations are generating power at around 4 or 5p per kWh (even as low as 3p in some cases). And this rate is effectively fixed for the next 25 years.

The savings made on energy bills mean that the capital investment on solar projects can be paid off in as little as three years.

To work out the commercial feasibility of a project, we will look at:

  • how much power you use and how it varies over time
  • how much you’re currently paying for electricity
  • what the generating capacity is for the site
  • how much of that generation will be used on-site (and how much exported to the grid)
  • the capital cost of the system
  • annual operation and maintenance costs
  • the projected cost of generation

From this we create a financial model that tells us the annual and cumulative benefits, the payback period and the internal rate of return (IRR).

It also tells us how much carbon you will save each year and over the lifetime of the system.


Contact us for a free site survey and energy audit for your business, get in touch today.

Call us 01208 895576


Geographical location and the roof’s pitch and orientation are the key variables that drive how much power the solar panels will produce.

In simple terms it’s sunnier in the south, and a gently-pitched, south-facing roof will perform best. But we’ve completed successful solar projects a long way north of our HQ in Cornwall, and on some pretty odd-shaped roofs.

Every solar PV system needs to be sized for the expected electricity demand – not just to fill the available space. Getting the design right for the demand profile is critical in making the installation a commercial success.

Battery storage or EV charging points can be incorporated into the system’s design from the start or retro-fitted later. Access routes and safety measures for both installation and maintenance are also factored in.

All elements are planned and project-managed to minimise any impact on the day-to-day running of your business.

Connecting to the grid relies on there being available capacity for export. If the local infrastructure needs to be upgraded this can lead to delays, although these are rare. CleanEarth deal with all the UK’s distribution network operators (DNOs) and have plenty of experience in securing the connection that’s needed.

Our in-house team handles everything from design through installation, and we provide ongoing maintenance and monitoring services to make sure the system continues to operate at full efficiency.


If you’d rather not make the capital investment in a solar PV system, there are a couple of alternative funding mechanisms that still mean you can benefit from a rooftop installation.

You can enter into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with us, which means we install the system and lease your roof-space, selling you the electricity it generates at an agreed rate. This might be pegged to inflation or to the going rate for energy – there are several ways to structure the arrangement.

Alternatively, you can make the investment without committing your own capital, through an asset finance package. We can introduce you to several financing partners who can propose a deal to meet your needs.

Ground mount

Ground mount systems can work well for businesses that would benefit from a larger system than their roof alone will accommodate.

For those with higher energy consumptions a ground mount system also brings higher yields than roof mount because the angle and aspect of the panels can be fully optimised. (They’re also easier to clean and maintain.)

If a system size of much over 100 kW is called for and the roof isn’t suitable – and assuming adjacent land is available – ground mount is the way to go. While planning consent is needed, CleanEarth’s in-house planning department are experienced in the process and will liaise with the local planning authority on your behalf.

Solar FAQs

The key factors in a building’s suitability are the roof’s fabric, structure, pitch and orientation. These each have an impact on the installation cost as well as the efficiency of the array.

We initially undertake a simple desktop evaluation to analyse suitability. This is followed by a thorough, on-site feasibility and structural survey by one of our engineers. We will also contact the local grid operator (DNO) on your behalf to ensure that any energy you don’t use can be exported to the grid.

CleanEarth will conduct a detailed analysis of your electricity consumption and will match the system size as closely as possible to your usage profile, to ensure you get the maximum benefit.

The higher the percentage of solar generation that you consume directly, the better return you will see on your investment.

Government subsidy in the form of the feed-in tariff (FIT) closed in April 2019.

However, grants are still available at a local and regional level in many places across the UK. These can provide up to 50% of the capital cost of installing a solar PV system.

We have plenty of experience of working with these schemes, one recent example being William Hughes in Dorset. To find out what grants are available in your area, please contact a member of our team.

The Smart Export Guarantee was launched by the government in 2020 as a way to reimburse small scale-generators for the electricity they export to the grid. However, the rate is set by each energy company and the only rule is that it needs to be above zero!

In reality, there are a small number of suppliers who offer worthwhile rates under the SEG (Good Energy are a great example) and we help our clients select the best one for their circumstances.

You don’t have to use the same company for both import and export, so you won’t need to switch supplier in order to set up the export contract.

The ROI for a solar installation is dependent on factors such as geographical location, roof orientation and electricity usage. But typically we would expect a payback period on a solar PV system of five to eight years.

We calculate your ROI forecast based on these key metrics:

  • The export tariff – which you get paid for every kWh you do not use and that gets exported to the grid.
  • Your energy saving – the savings you make by using free solar energy generated by your PV system instead of importing electricity from the grid.

You can install most commercial solar PV systems of 1 MWp or below under permitted development rights – without having to make a planning application. CleanEarth will design your system to ensure it meets the criteria laid out under the Town and Country Planning regulations.

If you are looking for a ground-mounted solar PV system, or your premises are in a National Park or Area of Outsanding Natural Beauty (AONB), then planning may be required. We have an in-house planning team to address any site-specific planning issues.

Not any more.

In the 2021 Autumn Budget the Government announced that “plant and machinery such as rooftop solar panels, wind turbines, and battery storage will be exempt along with storage used with electric vehicle storage points.”

This was originally due to come into effect from April 2023, but the March 2022 Spring Statement brought this forward by a year and the measure was implemented in April 2022.

It’s obviously easier if you own the building, because you have full control, but commercial landlords are increasingly recognising the benefits of allowing their tenants to invest in renewables.

As long as the tenancy is not too short a duration, permission can usually be negotiated with the landlord. And they’ve even been known to share in the investment.

Once installed, solar PV systems are relatively low maintenance. We offer an Operations and Maintenance (O&M) contract which enables us to remotely monitor your array at all times, allowing our technicians to adjust parameters for maximum performance. If any component is underperforming we can take action swiftly, eliminating the risk of lengthy downtime.

The British weather means we rarely find regular cleaning to be necessary.

Modern solar PV systems are extremely robust and we expect our installations to run for at least 25 years.

We will only specify ‘Tier 1’ solar modules with industry leading 10-year product and 25-year performance warranties. Our inverters have a standard 5-year warranty that can be extended to 20 years. All our work comes with a 5-year workmanship guarantee.

If you have a question about any aspect of solar generation that we haven’t answered here, please get in touch.

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