What’s the catch / the downside?

We’ve tried hard to eliminate any downside to the scheme. This is an ‘all inclusive’ offer. The financial model, where Dragonfly Power installs, owns and maintains the solar PV system and sells the electricity to the user at a discounted price, has been put together with the need for a simple, hassle-free solution in mind. There is no up-front cost to the user and the risk, in terms of the installation, ongoing operation and maintenance, is borne by Dragonfly Power. The price charged for electricity used takes this into account. We analyse the size of system with your electricity usage and price to find the optimum system for you.  We aim for a price of between 15p/kWh and 20p/kWh (summer 2023).

Are building owners/users liable for the costs if they decide not to proceed with the installation of the solar PV system?

The initial evaluation and desktop feasibility is carried out at no cost to the client by Dragonfly Power (DP). If a there is a promising project DP will prepare a Heads of Terms/Expression of Interest for both parties to sign. This allows DP to go ahead with a detailed feasibility study and produce a final proposal for the client leading to an agreement on cost of power etc. and to proceed to installation. Sufficient information for a firm decision to proceed, or not will be provided before legally binding contracts are entered into.

Do you need planning consent for a roof-mounted solar PV system?

No, the work is carried out under permitted development which allows installation of rooftop solar power systems up to 1 MW capacity. The planning authority, Test Valley Borough Council, will need to give permission for solar panel installations on listed buildings and in conservation areas. In the New Forest National Park planning permission from the National Park Authority is needed. There may be additional constraints in areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) too.

How does Dragonfly Power fund solar power projects?

When a project is agreed and designed Dragonfly Power will normally seek investment from the community by issuing non-tradeable interest bearing shares. This is a successful finance model which across England raised £21.5m for new projects in 2021 and is continuing to grow.

Where a project such as a primary school or village hall is too small to support a investor only model a hybrid finance model combining grants with a share issue may be used.

How is the project governed?

Once the decision to go ahead with the project is made it has to be put on a formal legal footing. There are two key documents:

  • a rooftop lease so Dragonfly Power can install the panels and occupy the roof which has to be registered. This is usually for 25 years and protects the interests of both parties. It includes a buy out option so that the building owner can acquire the solar PV system before the end of the 25 years. With the transfer of the asset comes the responsibility and cost for operating and maintaining it (although the electricity generated would be free following the transfer).
  • a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the user, either the building owner or tenant. This contract sets out the price for the solar electricity and how this will be indexed in future years. It also considers what happens at the end of a tenancy and before a new tenancy starts.

What happens at the end of the 25 years?

The arrangement to sell the electricity to building users from the solar PV system will end after 25 years. Most solar panel manufacturers have a performance warranty that the solar panels will still be producing at least 80% of their original output at this point. When the arrangement comes to an end, the solar PV system will normally be transferred to the building owner for a nominal sum to continue generating free electricity.

What happens to the solar panels if a building changes ownership?

If a building changes ownership the lease would normally be transferred as part of the sale. Dragonfly Power would continue to own, operate and maintain the system. The PPA would remain in force and transfer along with the lease.

Another option is for the owner to exercise the buy out option at the point of sale of the building for a price agreed with Dragonfly Power.

What happens to electricity that is not used on site?

The system is connected to the building’s electrical system ‘behind the meter’ so the building user will always have first use of the electricity generated. Any electricity that cannot be used on site will be exported to the local network and sold by Dragonfly Power. This helps to pay for the costs of the scheme, keeping the price down for the building user.

What happens if the solar panels stop working?

In this case the building will draw all its electricity from the grid, just as it does at night. However, Dragonfly Power has a strong incentive to keep the system working at peak efficiency so we can repay our investors. The solar generation is metered and monitored so that any unexpected drop in generation can quickly be identified and investigated.

How is the PV system insured?

Dragonfly Power will insure the system although building owners need to inform their insurers that a solar PV system is installed. This is unlikely to result in an increase in the premium paid.

How do I know my roof is strong enough for to take solar panels?

A structural survey by an independent engineer is one of the first tasks carried out prior to installation. It confirms that the roof is strong enough to support a solar panel system and if any reinforcement is required. The roof condition is also assessed before the installation so that old fragile roof coverings and other contraindicators such as asbestos can be identified. Any roof for solar PV should have an expected lifespan of 10 years before the project can go ahead.

How will the solar PV installation affect warranties on existing roofs?

We work with building owners to identify roofs with warranties and then discuss the requirements with each roof system supplier to make sure that the solar PV installations do not compromise any existing warranty.

What about roof maintenance?

The cost of removing the solar panels once to enable major roof repairs during the 25-year lifespan of the project has been factored into our financial model. If a roof covering has to be renewed Dragonfly Power will meet the cost of removing and reinstalling the panels. The cost of any subsequent removals for maintenance will have to be met by the building owner.

How long does the installation take?

As a rough guide, a 30-50 kW system will take between a week and a week and a half to install, although this may take a little longer during term time when working hours are more constrained. A 250 kW system would take up to a month to install.

Is Dragonfly Power considering incorporating battery storage?

Batteries are an excellent technical complement for solar panels but are often uneconomic to install. Battery prices are dropping but careful analysis of the costs and benefits including a battery in a project is essential.

Can the car park be used for solar PV?

If there is insufficient suitable roofspace for the optimal solar power system solar canopies over car parks may be an option. These are dropping in price but are still more expensive than rooftop solar due to the cost of the supporting structure so the financial case has to be carefully evaluated. Car park solar can work well as part of a full decarbonisation plan including electric vehicle charging.

What is the minimum size of installation?

We do not set a minimum size for projects as smaller projects can be installed with a hybrid finance model. The smallest capacity for a system funded solely through a share issue is around 70kW and in general the financial case for installation is better for larger systems.

How does billing for the solar electricity work?

The electricity generated by the solar system and any electricity exported onto the grid are both metered. This allows us to calculate the solar power consumed on site accurately. Invoices are usually prepared on a quarterly basis with the option of monthly billing by agreement.

Get in touch

Use this form if you want to invest in our projects, invite a member of Dragonfly Power to give a talk or presentation to your group, suggest a potential site for renewable energy or ask a general question about Dragonfly Power.

Building a low carbon community in the Test Valley

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Dragonfly Power CBS Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 as a Community Benefit Society, registration number: 8997
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