Laughing in the face of large-scale solar intimidation, new business venture Solar Power Direct has launched its free solar panel installation deal aimed specifically at commercial properties throughout England and Wales.

Solar Power Direct’s business model works in the same way as other free solar companies, installing solar panels on ‘host’ roofs so that the customer benefits from cheaper electricity bills, as they are expected to purchase the solar energy produced by the system at a cost which is 30-40% lower than conventional energy. The company then reaps the reward offered by the UK’s feed-in tariff (FiT), which is currently set at 36.1p/kWh for systems of 4-10kW, 31.4p/kWh for 10-100kW and 29.3p/kWh for systems up to 5MW. All tariffs are paid for 25 years.

The difference in the way this free solar model works is that Solar Power Direct promises to install panels on a much greater scale, targeting roofs in excess of 4,000m2 as opposed to the residential rooftop installations currently offered for free in the UK. Installations of this kind can cost up to £1.25 million to develop, which is a significant cost to be recouped by the FiT. This large-scale model is believed to be unique in the UK.

Chris Porter, Director of Solar Power Direct said, “We are a renewables company with a strong track record in wind, but much of the development, construction and funding process in solar runs parallel, so it makes complete sense for us to make the vertical move into this market. The Government’s ongoing spending reviews could have put the brakes on the launch of Solar Power Direct. It has effectively resulted in us accelerating plans and urging industry to get on board with solar power now, before the feed-in tariffs change.”

“Much has already been made about companies supplying free solar panels to residential properties, but we offer a fully-funded approach to placing roof-based PV panels on a much greater scale.”

In line with the recent rumblings from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and meetings with Greg Barker, Solar Power Direct aims to install as many large-scale systems as quickly as possible and has therefore made a strategic decision to target clients’ roofs rather than ground-space, as these systems require a less painful planning process.

“Placing solar panels on the ground essentially involves sterilising the land for the lifetime of the project, so we have opted to target roof-space. This is a huge untapped resource around the country and opens up our targeting to a much wider market,” concluded Porter.

No information was provided on the modules or inverters to be used by the company for these projects as “much of the work that we are doing remains undisclosed and the client name confidential”; however the company does say that it assesses each roof to decide which technology is best before installation commences.