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How long does it take to deliver a commercial Solar PV installation?

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Shaun Beattie - commercial solar pv install guideline In this guest blog Shaun Beattie, Director of Beba Energy Ltd, looks at the timeframe involved with designing, developing and delivering a commercial solar pv installation.

If, like most businesses, you’ve been hit with a 30, 40 or even 50% increase in the cost of electricity, you’re probably looking at the various ways you can reduce your electricity consumption.

By far one of the most popular – if you have the roof-space/land available – is solar PV.

A solar PV system on or near your business is a tried and tested way of reducing your reliance on the grid but also a great way of cutting your carbon emissions.

Unfortunately, whilst you may have seen your energy prices increase almost overnight, developing a commercial solar pv array correctly will not happen quite so fast.

Step 1 – Preliminary Proposal – Week 1

The first step on the journey is to establish whether or not a solar PV system meets the short, medium and long-term goals of the business.

In order to understand this – without either party committing too much time – we will produce a preliminary proposal based on some conservative assumptions for the site as well as some electricity data supplied by the business.

A preliminary proposal will cover the approximate system size, layout (and why), likely cost, payback and, most importantly, carbon reduction.

Step 2 – Grid Application – Week 3 – 17

After some internal deliberation, the next step will be to apply to your local District Network Operator (DNO) and request permission to connect your proposed array to their network.

Owing to the fact the grid have the right to veto the project – either via flat no or via uneconomical charges to connect – it’s advisable to tackle this element of the project early on.

The grid have up to 65 working days in which to issue their response to an application.

solar pv installation timeframe
The ‘typical’ timeframe of a commercial solar pv installation

Step 3 – Structural/Land and Site Surveys – Week 20 – 25

After some further internal deliberation, next up is the structural/ground survey as well as a site survey.

Solar panels need to stay anchored to the building or land for over 25 years so it’s important that they can withstand the weight of the equipment plus everything that mother nature can throw at it.

It’s also important for us to measure all of the site variables so that our formal proposal provides all of the detail needed so that you can make an informed decision on whether or not to proceed with the project.

A site visit to carry out the structural survey plus the site survey will take 6 weeks to arrange, carry out and then interpret the data collected.

Step 4 – Formal Proposal – Week 26

At this point – roughly 6 months from starting the process – we will be in a position to provide a formal proposal with fixed costs.

Our formal proposal will also cover likely site disruption (if any), inverter locations and delivery timescales.

Step 5 – Permitted Development/Planning Permission – Week 32-39

After some further, final, deliberation – as well as finalising the funding of the project – we will agree and sign commercial terms.

With this we will set the wheels in motion on the permitted development/planning permissions

Timescales here vary but 8 weeks to draft, submit and secure the correct permissions is typical.

Step 6 – Project Delivery – Week 40 – 52

As soon as the correct permissions are in place from the local council, we will progress to the final phase of this journey – project delivery.

Clearly timescales are subject to system size, complexity and the weather but most projects are delivered within 4 – 8 weeks, with bigger projects taking up to 12 weeks.

In Summary

From start to finish, a commercial solar PV project – developed, designed and delivered in a logical step-by-step manner – takes up to 1 year.

This will reduce significantly if the internal deliberation process is quick, if the local DNO does not take the full 65 working days or if you decide to undertake the structural/site surveys whilst the grid application is progressing. If this happens then a project can be delivered within 8 months of commencing discussions.

If your energy contract is coming up for renewal in the next 18 months don’t delay. Contact BeBa Energy today to start your journey and mitigate the impact of the rising cost of electricity.


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