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Thread: What else for solar roof panels??

  1. #1
    Senior Member matthew's Avatar
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    What else for solar roof panels??

    The operators of our power lines have 'found' a window of extra capacity and offered it for roof mounted solar on several farm buildings. As prices have dropped pretty much in line with FITs we have agreed to go with this.

    We've had a structural survey done and that's OK, so must contact insurers. How are these things insured and for what? They have a 10 year guarantee as standard, so am I insuring the roof, the panels and for what?

    I understand that there's no planning permission required now, but there's a mention of building regs in the contract. Is that aimed at house roofs, or silage / livestock barns as well?

    Any other tank trap we should be aware of before signing this?

    Your experiences of roof mounted panels on farm buildings, would be welcome
    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    sorry this post is long winded.
    I drew up the following as an introduction to myself and building owners explaining what is needed for a good site.
    I have not included all the document, but I should emphasise, I do not sell or fit any equipment.
    On the insurance front, which is only briefly covered, you should notify your insurer together with the increased replacement cost.
    This advice only really covers installs up to 50Kw as over this level you are coming into a completely different set of rules., and serious professional advice may be necessary, I would be happy to discuss my knowledge of it.
    I would normally be very happy to visit and advise, particularly in East Anglia further afield I would have to charge I am afraid.
    please note the FIT rates are continually changing so must be checked before starting.
    Solar Power
    Sites and suitability

    1. Elevation
    Shed should be East-West to give a South Facing roof
    Roof angle ideal approaching 50 degrees, but this is not a major issue
    Not over shadowed
    Preferably out of public view

    2. Size and type.
    Ideally sufficient to fit minimum of 50KW installation. ie. 350 sq. metres = shed approx. 18 x 38 metres absolute minimum
    Old Asbestos sheds are not suitable, new cement fibre roofs are no problem
    Dust can be a major issue on certain sheds and may, make them not suitable. Ie property near mills and certain types of older poultry buildings
    Life span of buildings, must be considered a 20 year period is the absolute minimum.
    Chicken sheds may have issues with the thin roof panels which must be taken into account.
    Any building which is designed for the benefit of human occupation, ie domestic dwellings, rest rooms, toilets, egg packing rooms, workshops etc. which have any form of heating, even just hot water, must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band D or above, if it is connected to the array. This only applies to one building. If several such are connected, the most suitable one can be selected.

    3. Security
    Should not be a major issue on roof mounts, but low sheds may have to consider this.

    4. Planning
    This is normally considered, permitted development but must be considered.
    Planning permission is essential if a pre application for accreditation is to be made.
    It is advisable to consult the planners in any case before going ahead with schemes, although our experience is that they are not normally worried.

    5. Power supply
    This must be 3 phase
    Permission will have to be sought from the DNO ( District Network Operator, normally, UK Power Networks) but is normally not a problem
    Normally a margin of approximately 30% will be required for the supply, over the size of the technology being installed.
    Normally each meter can support a separate installation.
    On sites with 2 meters or more the use can be made of the higher payments for the lower size installations. As discussed below care must be taken in such Installations.

    6. Leases if appropriate
    We would ask for a minimum 20 year lease, (this is the life of the FIT payments).
    At the end of the Lease we would hand the equipment to the owner of the building, in working order.
    Being a 20 year lease, permission will have to be granted by the owner of the building, the landowner and anyone having a charge on that land, eg. Mortgagee, bank etc.
    The lease requires registering with the land registry

    7. Fit Payments
    Payments are Graduated according to the size of installation from 13.5p 7.1p per unit generated (50KW 250+Kw rates, applicable till 1st May 2013)
    This is independent if they use the power on site or not
    If power is not used an export payment of 4.5p per unit is attracted as well if an export meter is fitted.
    Economies of scale dictate that the larger the install the more cost efffective.
    This means that industrial installations tend to be 50 or 150 KW in size.
    Any install over 250 KW gives a return of approximately 7.5p which is only economic for very large ground mount schemes.
    It is though possible to install over 250KW if certain strict conditions are met regarding the separation of the installation. Initially they must have their own metering system and be mounted on different buildings with no interconnection, etc. Then they may be treated as individually and come in under the 250KW maximum.
    To do these type of installs, pre accreditation must be sought from Ofgem, the industry regulator. Any such applications are fraught with issues and can take months to gain approval.
    FIT payment rates are classed in bands which are unaffected by any other renewable technology on the same site
    Ofgem will not give pre accreditation for any site of below 50KW, so when single sites with multiple meters are used great care must be taken that the rules are adhered to.


    8. Export payments
    These will be paid on all production not used and exported to the grid.
    To claim this an export meter must be fitted.
    It costs approximately 500 pounds per annum to have one fitted so Exports must be substantial to cover this
    Up to 30 KW systems do not need an export meter and will be credited with exporting 50% of production even if all power is used on site
    No Export can be claimed if other technology already on site is claiming this 50% ie. Small wind turbines. Although they can be brought into the scheme, if already present and the operator is amenable. However this will probably mean all payments will be made at the export rate they are claiming which may be at the old rate of 3.2p.
    The 30 KW Total covers all technology feeding through any meter.


    9. The Equipment.
    All equipment used in the installation has to be brand new and certified MCS, to qualify for FIT payments.
    This means, the equipment has no real second hand value and cannot be used on any other site.
    The panels are warranted for 25 years. As they are solid state with no moving parts, it is expected that they should have a long life span, although they may lose some efficiency in this period. Some panels, have been used on satellites and other space vehicles, which are over 40 years old, are still working
    The inverters are warranted up to 10 years and replacement has to be built into the equation
    Nearly all the panels are manufactured in China and Inverters, normally either Austria or USA

    10. Production
    Production of all panels will depend on the alignment of the panel to the sun. In the South East production should be near 1000 units per KW installed annually. The bulk of this will obviously be in the Summer months of May August 50%. March, April, September & October 30%. November February 20%.
    Production will peak near mid day depending on Alignment and cloud cover etc.
    To make full use of the power, it is essential to time heating, machine use etc. to take advantage of the mid day peak.
    There are available, electronic switching devices, to heat water, which only use power which would otherwise be sent to the grid

    11. Insurance
    This is normally done on the normal building fire and all risks policy.
    Ixworth Solar Farming Ltd.

  3. #3
    Senior Member matthew's Avatar
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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    Thanks exfarmer. That's most helpful.

    The system is 50kw. Not rent-a-roof, and on 100% agricultural buildings (livestock / silage barns) with fibre cement or galvanised roofs.
    It was the (DNO) network operator who contacted our supplier to advise of this small window, where they had 'found' extra capacity and did we want to go ahead?

    I believe planning changed recently to accommodate solar on roofs etc. up to 50KW, with no prior planning needed? (Installer info)

    One thing I didn't mention previously is VAT? As this system is purchased, can we reclaim? Anybody had any problems?

    .

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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    You will not need planning for under 50 Kw
    Unless you are in an AONB or somesuch.

    The system would be industrial and as such you can reclaim the VAT but any income both FIT's and export are subject to income tax.
    With cost of set up etc this would not be an issue. For a few years

    Exports would be subject to VAT
    FITs are not subject to VAT

    I assume you own the property.
    Ixworth Solar Farming Ltd.

  5. #5
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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    Ps. Although you may feel you are exempt from the EPC requirements, even the smallest toilet block or wash / rest room probably farm workshop will mean that you require it on one.
    some people have even built a qualifying building ie v small toilet block
    Ixworth Solar Farming Ltd.

  6. #6
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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    Our 26 kW array was limited by the 50kW transformer, panels now been there nearly 2 years
    3 phase was already in the building, structural survey made us replace Z purlins for stronger ones
    our panel supplier dealt with PP which was needed at the time & also safety nets
    NFU mutual gave us a questionnaire & they insure the panels, building & everything else here
    we are with British Gas as they supply our electricity, every quarter they email us for readings & a cheque follows a week or 2 later
    our expected payback is 8 years without taking electricity savings into account

  7. #7
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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    What is the maximum array you can put up if you got a 50kw transformer and 3 phase?
    Guess not as easy as 50kw maybe???

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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    Quote Originally Posted by RGT View Post
    What is the maximum array you can put up if you got a 50kw transformer and 3 phase?
    Guess not as easy as 50kw maybe???
    It won't be far off 50 kW, and in many cases it will be exactly 50 kW, but it does have to be modified by the supply line impedance, and the network that supply line is connected to. If you can actually get to that rare man, a properly educated and qualified power systems engineer, with access to the network characteristics in your area, then he (or she) ought to be able to give an answer pretty quickly, like in minutes.

  9. #9

    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    Quote Originally Posted by RGT View Post
    What is the maximum array you can put up if you got a 50kw transformer and 3 phase?
    Guess not as easy as 50kw maybe???
    Hi Unfortunately not I wish it was but it depends on a number of variables that only the DNO have access to and you will have to submit a G59 Application.

    The good thing from your perspective is that your DNO is Western Power (Glamorgan) - They are very quick and exceptionally helpful. If you need any help or want a Western Power G59 Application form just give me a shout. I can also let you have a completed example.

    Scottish Power in North Wales have just requested a 500 fee for a G59 Application for a 10KWp system. By her own admission the initial investigation with the information I provided would be no more than 15 minutes. A bit of a post code lottery I'm afraid.

    Regards

    Mike Smith
    0796 462 9142

  10. #10
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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    With regards to insurance; you cannot insure the panels for a higher level of cover than that of the building underneath with the NFU. So if for example you want to insure the panels for storm damage and it isn't covered on a standard policy already the buildings would need additional insurance for that too.
    Stay in Northamptonshire - meadowviewcottages.co.uk

  11. #11
    Senior Member matthew's Avatar
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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    Thanks so much for all that folks

    We are in an AONB but a quick phone call from the installer + their planning consultant bloke confirmed that AONB folk are not worried by roof mounted panels that can't be seen from the coastal path. Field arrays, visible for miles and wind turbines are different matter and would require consent..

    Buildings + land are owned so no third party involved. I'll set about insurance tomorrow... Insured with NIG FarmWeb.

    Installer says that he is licensed to provide a non compliance EPC letter so that connection can take place. So good to go. (I think)

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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    Quote Originally Posted by RGT View Post
    What is the maximum array you can put up if you got a 50kw transformer and 3 phase?
    Guess not as easy as 50kw maybe???
    At the time they told us it was 28kW

  13. #13
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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    Quote Originally Posted by matthew View Post
    Thanks so much for all that folks

    We are in an AONB but a quick phone call from the installer + their planning consultant bloke confirmed that AONB folk are not worried by roof mounted panels that can't be seen from the coastal path. Field arrays, visible for miles and wind turbines are different matter and would require consent..

    Buildings + land are owned so no third party involved. I'll set about insurance tomorrow... Insured with NIG FarmWeb.

    Installer says that he is licensed to provide a non compliance EPC letter so that connection can take place. So good to go. (I think)
    I would have a word with the planners
    It is easy for your installer to say it is OK, but he will have pocketed your cheque before the planners get to know.

    good luck
    Ixworth Solar Farming Ltd.

  14. #14
    Senior Member matthew's Avatar
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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    Almost there, but have a load of thick cable extra.
    This is the SWA 4 core 120mm stuff which will carry power from panels to the meter. Measured carefully, and no, we didn't stretch it but 30 - 40 m over. Apparently so much comes on the cable reel and the manufacturers often leave it as one length.

    Is there a sale for this amount, or are we better to send it for scrap ? (Or better to shut up about its location )
    It is safe at the moment.

    Matt

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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    Quote Originally Posted by matthew View Post
    Almost there, but have a load of thick cable extra.
    This is the SWA 4 core 120mm stuff which will carry power from panels to the meter. Measured carefully, and no, we didn't stretch it but 30 - 40 m over. Apparently so much comes on the cable reel and the manufacturers often leave it as one length.

    Is there a sale for this amount, or are we better to send it for scrap ? (Or better to shut up about its location )
    It is safe at the moment.

    Matt
    Are you likely to use it to take power to another building in future ?

  16. #16
    Senior Member matthew's Avatar
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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    Quote Originally Posted by rogerm View Post
    Are you likely to use it to take power to another building in future ?
    Hi Rogerm.
    No. All our buildings are in one block. This is the main cable which runs from the inverters (?) in the machinery/ cattle/silage building complex, which will have the roof array, back to the meter which is now in the garage behind farmhouse and cottage. The lawns have big moles

    There are smaller cables to take power from the single meter into both houses.

    There was a change of cabling plans when the W. Power man came waving his map of the pole with available line capacity towards the sea, which is 1/2 mile in the opposite direction to the pole we thought they'd use, which is closer to the farm buildings.

    So it appears to be 'spare'. Cost was 38 per m + VAT. Scrap value is around 4 /kg with insulation stripped out, 1/ kg not stripped. Seems a waste.

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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    Just quickly scanned the above and note that 3 phase is required which is a bit odd because I have panels on the barn and I'm on single phase....

    Seems to be working though as my last cheque for FIT was over 700.

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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    Dry Rot
    you can normally have up to 10 Kw on single phase with no problem but the Network operator will need to give approval.
    there is no actual reason why installs could not be greater provided the lines can take it.
    Ixworth Solar Farming Ltd.

  19. #19

    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    Quote Originally Posted by matthew View Post
    Hi Rogerm.
    No. All our buildings are in one block. This is the main cable which runs from the inverters (?) in the machinery/ cattle/silage building complex, which will have the roof array, back to the meter which is now in the garage behind farmhouse and cottage. The lawns have big moles

    There are smaller cables to take power from the single meter into both houses.

    There was a change of cabling plans when the W. Power man came waving his map of the pole with available line capacity towards the sea, which is 1/2 mile in the opposite direction to the pole we thought they'd use, which is closer to the farm buildings.

    So it appears to be 'spare'. Cost was 38 per m + VAT. Scrap value is around 4 /kg with insulation stripped out, 1/ kg not stripped. Seems a waste.
    Hi Matthew

    I may have got this wrong but in theearlier post you mention EPC Exemptions but you say you are taking cables to the houses - If this is the case you will need an EPC for one of the 'Relevant Buildings' and this must reach a D rating.

    You may want to put your excess cable on www.electriciansforums.co.uk - You may get a local buyer

    Regards

    Mike Smith
    0796 462 9142 50 kW Solar OFFER

  20. #20
    Senior Member matthew's Avatar
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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    Quote Originally Posted by hallmarksolar View Post
    Hi Matthew

    I may have got this wrong but in theearlier post you mention EPC Exemptions but you say you are taking cables to the houses - If this is the case you will need an EPC for one of the 'Relevant Buildings' and this must reach a D rating.

    You may want to put your excess cable on www.electriciansforums.co.uk - You may get a local buyer

    Regards

    Mike Smith
    Hi Mike,
    No, you didn't get it wrong. Initially the connection should have been 100% for the farm buildings with most for export. Until the W. Power chap changed the connection opportunity to a completely different line and pole. Bless him. So a new route and the houses can now benefit as well, which isn't a bad thing after today's announcements.
    Our installer has the necessary qualifications for the EPC rating: when this change happened, he examined both properties and says that with d/g, loads of wall, roof and some floor insulation and 3' thick walls, both easily qualify.

    Thanks for the link. Appreciated.

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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    Quote Originally Posted by Exfarmer View Post
    Dry Rot
    you can normally have up to 10 Kw on single phase with no problem but the Network operator will need to give approval.
    there is no actual reason why installs could not be greater provided the lines can take it.
    OK. They are not getting their money back anyway!

  22. #22
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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    Quote Originally Posted by hallmarksolar View Post
    Hi Matthew

    I may have got this wrong but in theearlier post you mention EPC Exemptions but you say you are taking cables to the houses - If this is the case you will need an EPC for one of the 'Relevant Buildings' and this must reach a D rating.

    You may want to put your excess cable on www.electriciansforums.co.uk - You may get a local buyer

    Regards

    Mike Smith
    This is a serious issue to providers of panels on roofs for free
    and one reason why there are some restrictive covenants in the deal
    Ixworth Solar Farming Ltd.

  23. #23
    Senior Member matthew's Avatar
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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    Quote Originally Posted by Exfarmer View Post
    This is a serious issue to providers of panels on roofs for free
    and one reason why there are some restrictive covenants in the deal
    I think EPC ratings apply to quite a lot of renewable packages. Not much point in throwing money at one end, if it's coming out just as fast from another.

  24. #24

    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    I know I've banged on about this on this and other forums but the EPC Exemption issue is becoming a hot issue with Ofgem.

    I submitted a Feed In Tariff form yesterday for a 45kWp farm job we installed last week along with an EPC Exemption and was told by EON that there was every chance that Ofgem would want to inspect to confirm the exemption. This is not a concern as it is an open barn and the farmhouse is on separate MPAN but the mere fact that it was raised without me asking the question is confirmation that many more exemptions will be challenged.

    We work with several very good Commercial EPC Consultants in the North and Midlands and each of them have received specific instructions from their governing bodies in respect of granting EPC exemptions for Solar and how it can impact on their Professional Indemnity Insurance if they get it wrong.

    Anyone requiring any advice on this please feel free to get in touch

    Regards

    Mike
    0796 462 9142 50 kW Solar OFFER

  25. #25
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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    Quote Originally Posted by hallmarksolar View Post
    I know I've banged on about this on this and other forums but the EPC Exemption issue is becoming a hot issue with Ofgem.

    I submitted a Feed In Tariff form yesterday for a 45kWp farm job we installed last week along with an EPC Exemption and was told by EON that there was every chance that Ofgem would want to inspect to confirm the exemption. This is not a concern as it is an open barn and the farmhouse is on separate MPAN but the mere fact that it was raised without me asking the question is confirmation that many more exemptions will be challenged.

    We work with several very good Commercial EPC Consultants in the North and Midlands and each of them have received specific instructions from their governing bodies in respect of granting EPC exemptions for Solar and how it can impact on their Professional Indemnity Insurance if they get it wrong.

    Anyone requiring any advice on this please feel free to get in touch

    Regards

    Mike
    We've just registered two systems with EON too and had an EPC exemption challenged on an open sided cattle building. No-one came out to look (that MPAN only supplies the farm buildings) but it has resulted in a delay with registering the system whilst we confirmed with the EPC consultant that his statements were true, pictures accurate and that the supply in no way fed any of the houses etc on the farm.
    Stay in Northamptonshire - meadowviewcottages.co.uk

  26. #26

    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    Quote Originally Posted by foxbox View Post
    We've just registered two systems with EON too and had an EPC exemption challenged on an open sided cattle building. No-one came out to look (that MPAN only supplies the farm buildings) but it has resulted in a delay with registering the system whilst we confirmed with the EPC consultant that his statements were true, pictures accurate and that the supply in no way fed any of the houses etc on the farm.
    Hi Foxbox

    It's becoming a real pain and you never know whether it's the Electricity Supplier being cynical to delay FIT payments. However an important point is to ensure that your EPC Consultant quotes the correct narrative in his exemption letter otherwise it will be thrown back to you.

    The safe fail way to ensure this is to ask your FIT supplier which version from Ofgem they are currently using - It currently comes from version 5.2 of the FIT guide for Licensed Electricity Suppliers - They will then supply the exact wording that your consultant must include.
    0796 462 9142 50 kW Solar OFFER

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    Re: What else for solar roof panels??

    11. Insurance
    This is normally done on the normal building fire and all risks policy.

    If you need advice with anything like this speak to Northern Alliance. They provide a wide variety of covers and offer free advice if needed.

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