solar panels

The growth of solar panels for cost reduction and decarbonisation

Published on : 2/12/24
Reading time : 3 min
  • As the cost of gas and electricity soared, companies in all sectors took a second look at their energy management. As a result, more of our clients - including those in the energy and resources sector - are adding or expanding solar panel installations. In this article, we discuss how to maximise the benefits of this fast-evolving technology and explain why the return on investment can come sooner than you think.

    Taking control of energy costs

    A combination of world events and high inflation caused sharp rises in UK energy prices and led to ongoing volatility. Although wholesale prices are now falling, the costs remain twice what they were in 2021. And with the UK government set to reduce the business subsidy available for 2024/2025, effective energy strategies are being pushed further up the agenda. 

    In the energy and resources sector, companies at the forefront of the energy transition are reassessing their strategies and looking to cut their costs too. It’s therefore no surprise that solar panels are growing in popularity.

    Gareth Thain has spent 15 years in the energy sector and is now Technical and Project Director for Sodexo’s Energy & Resources business:

    “Solar panels have changed. Their efficiency, installation speed and ease of maintenance have all improved immeasurably since the early days. But getting the biggest benefits quickly, and with minimal disruption, still requires deep expertise. That’s why clients seek our help with everything from cost-benefit analyses to site feasibility studies and end-to-end delivery and maintenance. They want an expert partner.” 

    Accelerating solar’s return on investment

    A man in a hard hat and safety vest diligently working on solar panels, ensuring their proper installation and maintenance.For companies working hard to decarbonise, increasing the proportion of solar power in the energy mix makes sense for the climate as well as costs. One client in the energy sector asked us to price, design and manage a rooftop solar panel installation, and it’s now projected to cut more than 37 tonnes of carbon emissions annually as well as save them £6m over 30 years.

    Gareth explains the wider benefits of reducing a business’s carbon footprint:

    “Renewable energy sources like solar panels offer big reductions in emissions, and they can also have knock-on benefits for recruitment and retention too. Today’s employees want to see employers take meaningful action to reduce their footprint, and choosing green energy can be a simple but significant step. Sodexo is itself striving for Net Zero by 2040, and we factor low-carbon solutions into how we deliver at every stage.” 

    According to the Energy Saving Trust, even a home PV system can save around one tonne of carbon per year, so the potential reductions for commercial installations are enormous.

    Finding sites with the biggest solar panel potential

    Our energy audits and feasibility studies offer a fast and inexpensive route to the best results. We’ll likely have a solid understanding of site layouts, historic usage, available daylight hours and utility costs already, so we can focus on presenting options that fit our clients’ real estate strategies and offer the best payback. If needed, we can install real-time energy meters to double-check consumption levels in particular locations. The sites we consider typically include corporate offices or warehousing facilities with big footprints, but we also consider remote camps if the payback time would come far sooner than the decommissioning.

    Our studies will typically look at battery storage potential too. Back-to-grid solutions used to be popular, but as the tariff paid through the government’s Smart Export Guarantee is now lower, storing and using the electricity at the same site is likely to be the better choice.

    Optimising the installation process from start to finish

    Once the choice has been made, the focus moves to installation. We often run the tender process on clients’ behalf, with a focus on best fit and best value, and for larger arrays will lead the planning process to obtain the necessary consents. We also offer full turnkey solutions, acting as Principal Designer under the Health & Safety Executive’s Construction Design and Management (CDM) regulations and taking projects through to installation, commissioning and maintenance.

    Offering a range of expert solar panel services

    Sodexo’s solar panel services span initial audits and assessments right through end-to-end project delivery. Our expertise includes site assessment and design, consents, procurement, installation, integration and commissioning. By combining our technical capability in this area with our experience in building and workplace management, we can offer our clients cost-effective solutions and seamless completion.  

    To check you’re maximising the benefits of solar panels for your business, get in touch.

    Recommended for you: