Solar PV

Do you have the space, but not the means?

CHL offers both privately funded and community funded models in partnership with Sharenergy and other organisations.

In the community funded model, the solar PV system is fully or partly funded by a Community Benefit Society, with the landowner receiving rent.
To calculate how much rent you might receive, use our solar PV and batteries calculator.

Receive rent from privately funded or community funded solar PV

The ideal site would have:

  • Available area on a roof, on a brownfield site, or on flat agricultural land of class 3b or lower.
  • good access to the local electricity network,
  • local loads (such as industrial and commercial units, electric car charging stations, datacentres and retail parks),
  • high insolation (generally speaking, the more southerly, the better, but projects in the north of the UK can still be viable)

Energy exported to the grid or used locally

Local loads can be connected by private wire to the PV system, with the following mutual benefits:

  • The local load benefits from a decrease in the unit cost they pay for imported electricity.
  • The PV system owner benefits from an increase in the unit cost they receive for generated electricity.


The cost of solar PV has come down over the last few years to the point at which many projects are now viable without subsidy.

CHL is currently developing subsidy-free community solar PV and battery projects in partnership with other organisations. More information will be published on our homepage as these projects progress.

CHL has completed solar PV design and grid connection application work for other companies and is capable of taking PV projects from concept to completion. We work with trusted partners who can provide extra installation manpower when the time comes, in the same way we do with our hydro projects.


Project management

Grid connection application

Community engagement

Outline design




Roof mounted PV

CHL has worked with companies and individuals to design rooftop PV projects for domestic properties, barns, warehouses, factories and other commercial buildings. We can undertake structural surveys, select mounting systems, design the electrical systems required to connect the PV to the building’s electrical infrastructure and draw up bills of materials. We can create elevations, plans and detail drawings for planning and installation purposes. We can use software tools such as PV Syst to estimate annual yield even in complex shading scenarios.

Shading models for a property with PV on 3 different planes.

Ground-mounted PV


Large ground-mounted PV systems should be protected by a security fence running around the perimeter of the solar farm. If possible, there should be a single entrance to the solar farm and CCTV and intruder alert systems monitoring the perimeter fence may be desirable. A suitable security fence for a large solar farm may be as follows

Anchor systems

PV modules should remain anchored to the ground in all wind conditions.  The type of anchor will depend on the ground conditions and also on the size of the solar farm.  Large solar farms are likely to have pile-driven foundations, while smaller ground-mounted installations may opt for screw-in anchors.  Where pile-driven or screw-in anchors cannot be used, ballast foundations may be suitable.

© Copyright M J Roscoe

Ground-mounted PV array by Solarsense with galvanised steel frame and pile-driven foundations.


Easy access should be maintained to all parts of the array. An access track should extend to all transformer stations. Access between rows and around the perimeter of the array (or around the perimeters of each field or sub-array) should be made as easy as possible within the constraints of the scheme design.

Mounting systems

Many companies offer mounting systems for ground-mounted PV. Steel and/or aluminium frames are available. For sites where bifacial modules are cost-effective, mounting systems are available which minimise rear shading and hence increase the yield from these modules. Single-axis tracking is becoming cost-effective in higher and higher latitudes as tracker cost-per-Watt-peak comes down. Large-scale tracker deployments in the UK are now a reality. High-density east-west at low tilts mounting systems are also possible. We will choose the best mounting system for your site.


PV module technology is improving all the time and whilst modules still represent a significant proportion of overall project cost, the cost per Watt peak has been steadily decreasing. Standard module efficiencies now exceed 20 % and developments such as bifacial modules, half cut cells and n-type silicon wafers are increasing efficiency and energy yield still further.


Inverters transform the direct current from the PV modules into alternating current which can synchronise with the mains. Inverters can be small micro-inverters serving a single PV module, medium-sized string inverters serving up to about 500 modules or large central inverters serving thousands of modules. We will find the inverter that represents the best combination of value, efficiency, longevity and convenience for your site.


PV systems that are too large to connect at 400 V must transform up to a higher voltage (e.g. 11 kV, 33 kV or 132 kV) in order to connect to the grid. A large ground-mounted PV system may have several step-up transformers positioned throughout the solar farm. A number of inverters connect to the primary winding of each transformer and the secondary windings are then brought together to connect to the grid via high-voltage cables and switchgear.

Cable management

A large PV system may have many kilometres of DC cable and low and high-voltage AC cable. It is important that all this cabling is managed so as to minimise total costs and losses over the lifetime of the installation. These include the costs for the cable itself, plus costs for trenching, cable ladders and racking, cable installation and termination.

Optimum ground coverage and module orientation

How densely the PV modules in a large array should cover the ground depends on the available ground area, the available grid connection capacity and the fixed costs of the PV project, most notably the grid connection cost. The larger the grid connection cost as a proportion of the total project cost, the more densely the PV modules tend to be packed.

Most ground-mounted solar farms in the northern hemisphere on fixed frames have their rows of PV modules oriented south (at various inclinations), but at very high densities (and hence very low inclinations), it pays to orient rows alternately east and west at low tilts.

Operational expenditure

Operational expenditure will depend on the size of PV system. Domestic systems up to about 10 kWp tend to be ‘fit-and-forget’, only attended to when something is clearly not working. The larger the scheme, the more time, effort and money it is worth spending on the operational phase of the project. A very large, ground mounted PV scheme may see operational expenditure in the region of £8k per MWp per year. This would cover technical asset management, site monitoring and security, module cleaning, land management and vegetation control and a technical O&M contract (including inverter replacement).