As the rush to make homes gas-free by 2035 begins we’ve produced a guide for businesses that sell, provide or install solar products for domestic and commercial use. The purpose of the guide is to understand what buyers want when considering renewable energy generation, and how your business can increase confidence in the technology and your ability to deliver as a supplier.

The solar market is particularly buoyant right now, with households and businesses alike seeking alternative solutions to heat their homes and workplaces due to high energy prices. The UK Government’s Energy Relief Bill support scheme ends in April 2022, which is another driver for businesses to act now to implement solutions that will ensure their own long term energy security.

Why solar? 

Solar is an attractive proposition as it easily understood by the market and is relatively straightforward to integrate into a home or building. The technology is low maintenance, long lasting and as an added benefit owners are able to sell excess energy back to the grid via the Smart Export Guarantee. In addition, the technology is net zero, and improves the environmental credentials of a building and business immediately.

The buoyancy in the market and increased demand for skilled professionals means that for tradespeople with transferable skills, solar presents a huge opportunity to grow your business and provide your customers with technology which is of increasing demand.  

What is solar energy? Exploring Solar PV, Solar Thermal and Solar PVT technologies

Solar technologies harvest the suns energy to create heat or power.  The most commonly applied technology is Solar photovoltaic (PV). Solar PV systems convert energy from the sun into electricity through semi-conductor cells. Systems consist of semi-conductor cells connected together and mounted into modules. Modules are connected to an inverter to turn their direct current (DC) output into alternating current (AC) electricity for use in buildings. Photovoltaics supply electricity to the building they are attached to or to any other load connected to the electricity grid. Excess electricity can be sold to the National Grid when the generated power exceeds the local need. PV systems require only daylight, not sunlight to generate electricity (although more electricity is produced with more sunlight), so energy can still be produced in overcast or cloudy conditions.

Solar Thermal or Solar Water heating uses energy from the sun to heat water systems and PV-Thermal (PVT) is a hybrid system which provides both heat and electricity.

Solar and whole energy systems

Solar technologies are particularly attractive to customers as they integrate well with existing energy systems, and can be gradually added to, creating a whole energy system. This system integrates solar technology with battery storage and electric-vehicle charging points and can be commissioned stages to help buyers to manage costs and minimise the impact on business continuity.  

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What will your customers want to know about solar?

How much does solar cost to install?

According to Solar Energy UK, the solar industry trade body, a typical home installation should cost between £6-7k. For a small office requiring a 5 -9kW output the cost would be around £8k, with an energy intensive business looking for an output over 25kW paying considerably more.

Whilst the cost of solar has increased in line with inflation during the past 12 months, due to current energy prices the investment is now much more affordable. Projects that were not viable, say, five years ago, probably will be now, as the payback period is so much shorter.

Spending time to research local competitors pricing and demonstrating your value will be important potential customers, particularly in the public sector where value for money is weighted highly in procurement processes. If your prices are higher than your competitors it will be important to demonstrate what value you add for the difference – e.g. shorter lead times, better technology, additional certifications etc.

Get advice on your value proposition from Green Economy advisors.

What is the buyback on solar energy? How long will it take to see a return on investment in solar?

According to Solar Energy UK green heating can save more than £3,000 on energy bills every year and in a typical gas heated home. Solar panels save around £1,276 a year, suggesting a payback period of around 6 years and if the property is owned, solar panels can add around £2,000 to the value of a home.

In a commercial property the opportunity can increase further depending on the size of the building and energy use. The Energy Saving Trust Solar Energy Calculator estimates fuel bill savings and financial payments for the property and will be a useful tool to demonstrate value to your customers, but an energy consultant will be able to provide a bespoke measurement of the potential saving to the customer.

Search for local energy consultants on our Marketplace.

Are there any financial incentives for solar that I can share with my customers?

The Smart Export Guarantee (which replaced Feed in tariffs in 2020) enables those with solar energy to be paid for the electricity they sell to the grid. Solar Energy UK details the latest tariffs and considerations that a buyer should consider.

Do I need planning permission for solar on my building?

Solar PV installation does not usually require planning permission unless the installation is on a listed building. Both installers and energy devise owners have a responsibility to ensure that work complies with building regulations. This information is available on the relevant local authority website.

Search for local authority planning permission in: 




Northern Ireland

Can I install solar onto a building I don’t own?

Yes but only with permission and in partnership with the property owner. At Green Economy we are experienced in supporting green tech buyers in demonstrating the value of this investment. If you would like to arrange a consultation in partnership with the business and landlord please contact us.

Read our case study about installing solar onto a rented warehouse.

How long will it take to install solar panels and how will it impact the day-to-day running of the business?

A key consideration for a business will be the length of the install and the likely impact on the business. Project length will of course vary depending on the size and scale of the project with a small domestic project taking approximately two days, up to six months for a solar development. 

Ensuring that you can provide your customers with this information at the point of quotation will be key to manage expectations and ensure high quality customer care. Explain the need for health and safety considerations, like working a height and the requirement for scaffolding or other safety equipment, and the impact this may have on the install time. 

What will customers want to know about your business? 

How experienced your business is?

Customers will be keen to understand your credentials, but also your professionalism, through customer feedback, testimonials and case studies. The solar landscape is complex and third-party assurances will provide comfort to both domestic and commercial customers.

Create a free profile on Green Economy’s Marketplace to demonstrate your professionalism and reach new customers.

Understanding of the market

Customers want to know that you have a thorough understanding of the technology, but also the wider net zero transition. It may be too soon to consider renewable energy generation if energy efficiency measures haven’t been implemented first. Building a network of contacts across the journey to net zero, or joining Green Economy helps you provide that end-to-end service in collaboration with local partners.

You may also be able to ‘upsell’ a whole system approach. Solar installations can be the first step to total self-generation, by looking at the bigger picture and exploring routes to installing electric-vehicle fleets and battery storage, but presenting this as a long-term strategy and phased capital investment project, will demonstrate that you’ve thought about the longevity of this project for your customers.

Maintenance and guarantees

Customers will want assurances that the technology they have invested in will continue to work in the long term and you can demonstrate this by working with products that are Microgeneration Certified Scheme (MCS) certified.

Clearly explaining the period of guarantee offered by the manufacturer and even delivering your own maintenance scheme can be an effective business model to ensure you can retain existing customers and will enable you to recommend system improvements that will bring less reliance on the grid in the future.

The solar market presents business opportunities for roofers and electricians

Demand for solar installations is high, and as the UK Government commits to gas-free homes by 2035, this will peak further over the next decade.

For plumbers and electricians that work with fossil fuel-based systems, the imperative to reskill will only increase over the next few years as businesses and homes begin to retrofit their systems and move towards renewable alternatives. This market is growing and at Green Economy, we are seeing a mass increase in tenders and sales opportunities from buyers within public sector, domestic retrofit schemes, business settings and new developments.

Reskilling to install solar technologies

Green Economy partner, the Green Skills Academy, offers courses to reskill roofers, plumbers and electricians to install solar pv. Find out more information about the course on the GC Education and Skills website. 

Solar PV reskilling course

Renewable Energy Grid Compressed

Installing solar and getting on the grid

Solar photovoltaic devices must be registered with the local Distribution Network Operator (DNO). You should engage with the DNO as early as possible especially if the installation is considered a large system and if they want to sell back to the grid. In some instances customers just need to connect and notify but there are occasions where we will need to carry out work on the network.

If you're based in the North West you can find more information about generation connections on the Electricity North West website.

Outside of the North West?

The Energy Networks Association will help you to identify the operator in the area of the installation.

Who’s my network operator?

Sourcing solar panels

At Green Economy we’re building a network of installers and suppliers of equipment across solar technologies. Due to supply chain challenges, the wait period on solar panels is delayed by approximately 8 weeks. 

To connect with local suppliers run a search on our Marketplace or get in touch with our team for bespoke support.

Search for local suppliers

Ethically Sourcing Green Tech Materials

Community energy generation

For some buildings self-generation will not be feasible and a route to overcome this is developing a community generation project. The approach brings a cluster of local partners together to invest in renewable energy together, the benefits being a lower capital investment for the client and potentially a larger project for the supplier. Electricity North West shared some of their experience in supporting community projects for this story about self-generation below. 

Find out more

How can Green Economy help solar installers to scale and grow their business? 

Green Economy connects solar installers, manufacturers, suppliers and tradespeople with connections to domestic and commercial customers who are on their journey to net zero. Green Economy members create a free profile on our Marketplace, which customers can use to find your business and approach you directly. 

In addition, we share exclusive sales opportunities with our members each week and invite our members to exclusive business development, networking and meet the buyer events. 

Solar installers based in Bury, Bolton, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan

You are eligible for fully-funded business growth support from Green Economy in addition to the other Green Economy membership benefits. Create a free profile on our website and we’ll be in touch with next steps.

Join Green Economy

Electricians, roofers and plumbers looking to diversify into renewable energy or energy efficiency markets

We're developing a pilot programme to support new entrants to the green tech sector. Complete this form to express interest and we'll be in touch.


Further reading on solar

What UK businesses can expect from on-site power generation

An increasing number of UK businesses are exploring on-site renewable energy generation as a solution to energy bill hikes - could it be a solution your business would benefit from? 

Energy prices driving rooftop solar boom

The energy price crisis is driving the fastest deployment of solar power for eight years, with Google searches for solar panels reaching their highest ever level, according to industry insiders.

Boarding the Solar-Coaster - Pitching Green Technology to Prospective Buyers

Ellard sought support from Green Economy to find a partner for their solar project, which led to a Meet the Buyer event for four local firms.

Do you install green technology or provide net zero services? 

Green Economy's partners have new sales opportunities for installers of solar, LED lighting, heat pumps, EV charging and battery storage, and for providers of energy management systems. 

Green technologies and services businesses can create a free profile on the Marketplace to receive direct enquiries from new customers, as well as exclusive sales opportunities from Green Economy. 

Find out more

Search for a local, trusted green tech supplier? 

We've brought the suppliers, installers and providers we need to deliver net zero into one single network. Search for local suppliers by technology, location and experience on the Green Economy Marketplace. 

Need more help? We can help you navigate the journey to net zero with expert support and guidance. 

Find out more

Green Economy events and training

Explore our programme of webinars, networking opportunities and a series of masterclasses designed to help businesses to demystify green technologies, to decarbonise and grow. 

Green Economy members also receive exclusive invitations to join business development events and exhibitions, and live meet the buyer sessions. 

Find out more

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