Savills Energy has called on the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to outline the next steps of its solar strategy in order to unlock greater investment in the commercial rooftop solar market.

The UK solar strategy places particular emphasis on encouraging the deployment of rooftop solar, especially the underperforming commercial-scale sector. Giles Hanglin, who heads the national coordination of solar rooftop delivery for Savills Energy,  believes that there are three key areas that need to be addressed if the government is going to realise its ambition for commercial rooftop solar. Those are: grid capacity, property valuations and leasehold and tenancy agreements.

Hanglin explained: “With around 70% of the UK's commercial property being leasehold, this is an area that certainly has to be broached to allow substantial growth in capacity of solar PV on rooftops.” Hanglin said that challenges arise because the average commercial lease length is less than 10 years, whereas solar investments tend to have a lifespan of 20 to 25 years.

Savills Energy is also concerned that the value of solar assets are not being properly reflected in a property’s value. Hanglin said: “All of the evidence from our valuers and third parties shows that solar can add significant value to a commercial property.”

Outlining the benefits of installing solar for both landlords and tenants, Hanglin said: “When you consider the returns on investment, capital appreciation, improvement in EPC ratings of buildings, as well as improvement in their CSR and green credentials, the opportunities for landlords looking to take on solar PV installations are considerable. There have also been a number of studies showing how solar can add value to a commercial property.

“Alongside the potential electricity cost savings from the discounted solar PV electricity, business tenants will also be able to take advantage of improving their green credentials and CSR. There have been some really positive announcements from top tier retail names of late, in terms of investing in large-scale rooftop solar, but there is still plenty to be done.”

Commenting on DECC’s current commercial rooftop proposals, Hanglin said: “We believe commercial rooftop solar will prove to be vital in helping to meet future energy requirements. As such, we welcome the DECC consultation into increasing permitted development under planning up to 1MW in size and also the discussion around plans to allow rooftop solar installations to be transferred between buildings without losing feed-in tariff (FIT) accreditation.”  However, Hanglin urged the government to continue to work to unblock the sector, he said: “The investment all parties are making at the moment to ensure that rooftop solar works effectively will pay dividends for our long-term energy security and we look forward to working with DECC to overcome potential barriers to success.”