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Solar on commercial roofs has always lagged behind the domestic rooftop market. Currently, less than 5% of UK solar installations are on commercial roofs, compared to approximately 94% of systems installed on homes[1].  Commercial properties have large, generally unused roofs, and account for about 8% of the UK’s energy consumption[2]. Installing solar can make sound economic sense; it reduces carbon emissions, offsets the need to purchase peak time electricity from the grid, and helps to insulate companies from future electricity price fluctuations.  So why the low take-up of solar in this sector?

PEC Front Cover Image

There are a number of reasons, some of which are client led, such as financing, ownership issues and roof suitability[3].  Another reason is that the extremities of the solar market (domestic and ground mounted) have been so buoyant over the past few years that some installers/ developers have not had the time to refine their proposition for commercial clients.  Now is the ideal time for the solar industry to diversify their offer and use their experience to overcome barriers to solar on commercial roofs.

BRE National Solar Centre and the Renewable Energy Association (REA) are launching a new guide that looks at the key issues and provides a range of options for successful project delivery including: considerations for design, contractual arrangements and financing options. A financial model will be accompanying the guide and will be available to download for free from the BRE National Solar Centre website.

‘Solar PV on commercial buildings: a guide for owners and developers’ will be launched at the Solar PV Summit in London on the 19th July 2016.  To book your place at the event where you can receive your free copy of the new guide please visit

[1] DECC, Solar Photovoltaic Deployment in the UK, May 2016

[2] Property Industry Alliance, Property Data Report 2015

[3] DECC, UK Solar PV Strategy Part 2, 2014

Christine Coonick
About the Author
Christine is Senior Consultant at the BRE National Solar Centre, based at the Eden Project. Joining BRE in 2014, she brings experience of a wide range of solar power applications, delivering impartial consultancy and research for Government, local authorities and community energy groups. As a STEM Ambassador for Cornwall and member of the Cornwall Clean Energy Industrial Advisory Group, Christine is passionate about providing the next generation with a sustainable low carbon future and encouraging women into engineering roles.

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