Solar panel installations on UK industrial real estate surge

Instructions for the installation of photovoltaic panels on UK industrial property have risen by 720% over the past year, according to real estate consultancy Hollis.

The firm, which oversees the management of retrofitting, refurbishment and new-build projects for most of the UK's largest industrial real estate landlords and investors, reviewed instructions taken in its 2022-23 financial year to date, with those taken in the previous year.

The increase comes as part of a wider drive by institutional investors to implement overarching ESG strategies across their portfolios.

Hollis director and head of industrial, Carl Sablon, said: ‘The last 12 months have seen investors of all sizes really focus on the task of improving the energy consumption levels of their industrial units, which are often the least efficient assets in their portfolios.

‘The reality of the need to be compliant with MEES [minimum energy efficiency standards] targets from 2025 through to 2030 is starting to bite. Whilst smaller changes to things such as lighting and heating systems might get them to the D and E EPC ratings needed in the short term, to achieve a Band B rating, they need to make bigger changes to the energy sources they are using.’

Hollis recently advised firms such as Legal & General and industrial REIT Segro on how to meet forthcoming changes to EPC regulations in the UK.

The adviser completed the retrofitting of a 21,284 ft2 (2,000 m2) warehouse for Segro, which included the installation of 341 PV panels, alongside a number of other ESG initiatives. The result saw the property achieve an EPC A+ and BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating, whilst also delivering reduced upfront embodied carbon of 130 tonnes CO2e, compared to undertaking a new build industrial unit.

Sablon added: ‘With their expansive roof fascias, industrial units are perfect for installing the quantity of PV panels needed to generate levels of natural sources of renewable energy that covers day to day usage on the site.’

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