Solar panels for not-for-profit organisations in the UK

by Solar Selections on March 6, 2013

Solar panels for not-for-profits

Solar systems have been growing in popularity for homes and commercial enterprises; this trend also holds true for not-for-profit organisations such as churches and schools.  Not-for-profit charities across the UK are already saving money on operational costs by investing in a solar panel system. By way of example, previously on this site we’ve written about Knellwood Residential Care Centre‘s 10 kilowatt (kW) system, as well as a 12.56kW system in Ensham Parish Council.

Why should not-for-profits invest in solar panels?

Although there are ethical reasons (climate change and pollution) that might influence someone to consider installing a solar system, unfortunately good intentions alone are often not enough to make the move worthwhile. Thankfully, it’s becoming easier and easier to ‘do the right thing’ for the planet whilst at the same time doing the right thing for one’s own finances.

Just as with commercial and residential solar power, not-for-profit organisations that invest in solar PV (photovoltaics) stand to substantially reduce their power bills. The cost of going solar has never been lower than it is now, and climbing electricity prices are driving more and more organisations to find ways to cut down ballooning costs. The more money saved on power is more money to be spent on other, more worthwhile activities. Solar PV, having seen healthy growth in the past few years, is beginning to become common enough as to almost be considered ordinary. It is also getting more and more credence from the government.

How do solar panels enable not-for-profits to save money?

In essence, there are 3 factors driving the investment-worthiness of solar panels in the UK.

The first is the UK’s feed-in tariff, which pays solar system owners a premium for each unit of power that their system produces (plus a small amount for each ‘excess’ unit that is sent to the power grid instead of being consumed on-site). It is this feed-in tariff that has helped the UK’s solar industry grow to the size that it has.

The second reason is the rising price of retail electricity. No one in the UK–besides those who go completely off-grid–is able to completely avoid this. Owning a solar PV system means that less power needs to be purchased from utilities at steadily inflating rates.

The last reason is the cost of installing solar panels, which has come down dramatically over the past few years, making payback periods for solar systems comparable to what they were at the peak of the UK’s feed-in tariff incentives–even though the subsidy rates have in fact come down.

Not-for-profit / charity VAT exemptions

As it currently stands (although this may change), all solar systems are eligible to receive a discount on VAT (5% as opposed to the standard 20%). In addition to this, charitable not-for-profits may be eligible for a 0% VAT rate if the solar  system is used for a ‘relevant charitable purpose’. Read more about VAT, solar panels, and charities.

Interested in learning about the benefits of going solar for your church, school, or other not-for-profit organisation? Solar Selections provides free advice and Solar Quote Comparisons across the UK. We also run tenders for larger-scale solar projects. Initiate a dialogue with us by filling out the form to the right of this page or contacting us directly:

020 7205 2267

© 2013 Solar Selections

Top image via Eynsham Parish Council

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