Can solar panels be mounted on the ground?
Although when many think of solar energy, they picture solar panels on rooftops, there are in fact many different types of ways solar panels can be mounted. And If you are limited on unshaded roof top space, and have large land available, a ground mounted solar panel system might be the solution to your energy needs.
According to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), 47% of solar PV panels in the UK are ground mounted as solar farms/parks. Although often used for solar farms, this doesn’t mean that ground mounted solar panels can’t also be installed domestically as well. Whilst on-roof solar panels make use of rooftops, ground mounted solar panels make use of land.
Although most residential homes don’t necessarily have spare land, ground mounted solar PV is a great choice for commercial properties or utility solar farms. Ground mounted solar panels are an effective way of generating solar power, so read on to find out more and to decide if a ground-mounted solar installation is right for your project.
Types of Ground Mounted Solar Panel
When installing a ground mounted solar panel system, the solar panels are attached to a frame which hold your solar panels at a fixed angle for maximum sun exposure. The structure can either be:
- A Standard ground mount in which a metal A-frame is fixed into a concrete base or a pole that’s pile driven into the ground.
- A solar tracking system , which moves the solar panel over the course of the day to follow the sunlight.
- A ballasted plastic tube which sits directly on the land. This type of system is also used on solar for flat roofs.
- A wooden frame, which is often a bespoke system and can double up as another structure.
The Benefits Of Ground Mounted Solar Panels
The Cons Of Ground Mounted Solar Panels
Ground Mounted Solar Considerations
The ecological impact
A main concern surrounding the installation of ground mounted solar PV is the impact on the local wildlife and ecosystem. However, if your solar project is designed correctly the local wildlife could in fact benefit.
Usually because ground mounted solar panels are installed at a fix height above the ground, they can offer shade and protection for wildlife in adverse weather conditions. Providing a shelter from rain, snow and sun. What’s more, installing a ground mounted system isn’t destructive, so if at any point you wish to decommission the system, the land can still be used.
According to the Building Research Establishment, infrastructure for solar farms impacts less than 5% of its ground space. However, if the ecological impact of ground mounted solar panels or solar farms is something that concerns you, luckily researchers looking at the wildlife impacts of solar farms from the University of York and Lancaster, have developed the SPIES tool, to promote the enhancement of biodiversity and ecosystems in solar farms. The tool can be downloaded from the project website at: http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/spies/.
Do you need planning permission for Ground Mounted Solar Panels?
According to the UK Planning Portal, ground mounted solar panels fall under permitted development as long as the following criteria is met:
- No part of the installation should be higher than 4m
- The installation should be at least 5m from the boundary of the property
- The size of the array should be no more than 9 square metres or 3m wide by 3m deep
- If the property is a listed building or a scheduled monument, then solar panels should not be installed within the boundary.
- If your property is in a conservation area, or in a World Heritage Site, no part of the solar installation should be nearer to any highway bounding the house, than the part of the house that is nearest to that highway.
Getting Ground Mounted Solar Panels Installed
If you are a UK home or business owner considering to install ground mounted solar panels, get in touch! The green team here at Deege Solar will be more than happy to help you on your Solar journey. As award winning solar panel installers based in Essex, we have over 12 years of experience designing and installing both domestic and commercial solar systems. Call us on 01322 479369 or simply click enquire now to fill out our short form, to get connected to a Solar Energy expert.