Commercial Solar PV — 5 Things To Look Out For

November 15, 2021

Jim Mc Eneaney

With over 15 years of experience in the Irish solar industry, we understand it can be difficult to navigate the procurement process of the right solar panel installer. We’ve helped our fair share of both commercial and domestic customers in our time. As solar comes to the forefront of people’s minds, the number of options open to you is greater than ever. This is a great thing for us as an industry and for you as a potential solar energy producer. But as a commercial entity in the commercial and industrial sector, diligence and care is of the utmost importance as we enter 2022.

“Solar PV remains the powerhouse of growth in renewable electricity, with its capacity additions forecast to increase by 17% in 2021 to a new record of almost 160 GW.”

The proliferation of solar PV globally has been reflected by its growth here in Ireland also. Many people now realise the efficiency of solar PV in our climate and debunking the myth of it being an isolated solution in sunnier climates such as Spain, Australia, and the like. With its growth in the Irish market and our experience of the industry on our island, it’s very important to remember that there are a number of steps you can take to make sure you are working with a suitable operator.

A recent installation for McArdle Skeath in Inniskeen, Co. Monaghan. They also installed a second system on their Hollystown premises in Dublin.

What to look for?

Experience

You need to establish that the solar company you want to partner with has the adequate experience or at least shown the adequate skills on similar installations to carry out the scale of installation you are planning. This should be the foremost question when going to tender – can they do it?

Longevity / History

The most indicative way of showing you will be there for a client in the future is to show how you have been there for other clients in the past. Of course, this isn’t all-encompassing when you consider that everyone must start somewhere. But it should be important for you to understand that if you are installing a solar PV system on your premises in 2022 and warranties for this are there in 2027, 2032 and so forth – these warranties may only exist on the basis that your chosen installer is still in operation – so it’s important to consider whether or not they will be there for you in 2025 and beyond. Some things to look at here would be credit checks and checking the companies financial standing through their previous years accounts filings. Simple tools such as SoloCheck or Credit Safe allow you to perform some simple financial due diligence. They can also make you aware of any backings behind the company. For example, we are 50% owned by SSE Airtricity which offers reassurance of our standing in the market now and long into the future.

Expertise

When making the decision to pursue solar, you want to make sure you’re dealing with a trusted installer whereby the design of the project, the project managers and engineers managing this are in-house. When an installer is designing and managing a project in-house, they know that they’ll have full responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the system post-installation. They’ll therefore go to the lengths required to make sure that the design of the system, product used, and installation measures are all of the highest quality to guarantee a high performing system is in place for many years afterwards.

For example, you could check the staff numbers of any given “supplier/installer” – low head count means that they will be outsourcing many of the required processes involved in designing and installing your system. Bringing in contract workers to design a project is not ideal as once that contract is over, the expertise leaves with it. With over 60 people directly employed by us here in Activ8 our full-time staff are here to bring you from onboarding right through to operation and maintenance in years to come.

Product

It’s very important that high quality, tested product is used on your system. It is only through longevity and experience that a supplier can testify for the components they use. Dealing with inverters, panels and switch gear manufacturers over many years allows you to truly understand the reliability and ease of use that different product provide when they are installed and put into operation here in Ireland. It’s important that any selected installer has a relationship with suppliers built up over time – rather than using an installation partner that is choosing product based on price and availability for any given job.

Warranty

This feeds into the quality of product and relationship management mentioned above as well as the overall health of the installer you are choosing. If there are product or installation issues several years post-installation, it’s important first of all that your chosen installation partner is still in operation and that they have the appropriate channels established to help deal with any potential product issues that may arise

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Commercial Solar PV — 5 Things To Look Out For

With over 15 years of experience in the Irish solar industry, we understand it can be difficult to navigate the procurement process of the right solar panel installer. Here are a few pointers.