SunGift Solar completed the solar install in April this year. Image: Virgin Media.

Virgin Media reduced its carbon emissions year-on-year by more than 6% in 2015, and the company said it owes much of this reduction to a trial run of on-site generation as well as various energy efficiency projects.

The broadband and entertainment provider was one of a number of leading businesses to have installed rooftop solar in the last year, partnering with installation firm SunGift to fit a 36.2kW system to the roof of its offices in Bristol.

Completed in April, the system is contributing as much as 20% to the office’s daily consumption and the panels are expected to save the firm as much as £60,000 over the system’s lifespan.

Speaking to Solar Power Portal after the company released its sustainability report last week, Virgin Media's head of sustainability and reporting Katie Buchanan said: “This project is considered the benchmark for any future rollout across the Virgin Media estate. Any future rollout will depend on the investment case and the practicality of each individual site – this technology is very dependent on site structure and orientation of the building.”

While the firm wasn’t ruling out further experiments with solar and other renewables, cuts to the feed-in tariff enacted earlier this year have impacted Virgin Media’s immediate plans.

“Solar technology is evolving all the time and we are constantly reviewing the changes and new technology available. The payback periods are still fairly long, in this case just under 20 years, and the impact of government decisions on feed-in tariffs certainly has an impact.

“Our current focus is on solar as this provides a steady source of energy which is essential for our critical technical sites that provide the backbone to our broadband network.  As technologies improve, in particular energy storage solutions, we will continue to keep an open mind to solutions that can help us to reduce loads and energy costs.”

This theme has emerged as a key driver of activity in the commercial rooftop space as companies seek to meet their green commitments, like those in the RE100, or protect themselves from fluctuating energy prices.