Using 5% of UK commercial rooftop space for solar could save £12.6 billion annually. Image: Piqsels NC.

PowerMarket have released the results of a study that indicates that if the UK used 5% of available UK commercial rooftop space for solar, it could lead to an estimated £12.6 billion per year in energy cost savings.

Detailed within the finds of the Solar Feasibility Study, the results have shown that the 5% of the unused rooftop solar space amounts to around 2,500 hectares of south facing roof space.

This coincides with statistics identified by the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA) which fund that unused roofs on warehouses total 18,500 acres of land meaning the UK is missing out on 15GW of solar energy.

PowerMarket also indicates that zero upfront capital expenditure for solar rooftop installation projects is viable via win-win power purchase agreement (PPAs) financing. This makes it “almost negligent” to not seriously evaluate if the space above offices, warehouses, data centres or science park campus’, amongst others, are “hidden cash cows”, the firm said.

Solar could also significantly contribute to the reduction of energy costs especially amid the cost-of-living crisis. Due to the volatile global gas market, renewable energy has been touted as a means to not only reduce energy bills, but also gain energy independence.

The study also recognised that out of the 30 leading Science Parks dotted around the UK, only around 5.4% of the current suitable roof space had installed solar. These are recognised as energy intensive buildings and thus switching to renewable energy could reduce the strain on the energy system and also reduce the cost in energy.

PowerMarket has estimated that the science and technology start-ups who utilise these science parks are also missing out on over £65 million of annual energy cost savings combined.

Scotland recently made a move to reform the planning rules to incentivise rooftop installations across the nation. Earlier this month, the Scottish Government stated that it had pledged to consult on lifting the need to obtain planning permission for larger solar installations on non-domestic buildings early next year, bringing it in line with planning rules in England.

By implementing policy that does not require planning permission for non-domestic solar installations, this could make the process simpler and could rapidly scale the Scottish solar industry much like the rest of the UK.