Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland
Solar energy can provide both electricity and heat. It's unlikely to supply all the energy a business needs but can provide a significant percentage.
Photovoltaic (PV) panels convert sunlight into electricity. They are available in a variety of formats including cladding, roof tiles and custom glazing. The panels are generally positioned on an unshaded, pitched roof. This allows them to receive as much sunlight as possible.
Solar hot water systems absorb energy from the sun and transfer it, using heat exchangers, to heat water. Solar water heating can heat water to temperatures of up to 65°C. There are a variety of solar water heating collectors available, which are commonly mounted on roofs in the same way as PV panels.
Solar energy is an intermittent technology as it is dependent on sunlight. Panels can generate some energy when conditions are cloudy but not at night.
Solar energy can be expensive to implement, usually with payback periods of more than 8 years. The cost of solar PV has dropped recently so payback periods are shorter than before. Fitting solar systems on existing buildings can be costly. It is better to install solar energy at the build stage.
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