In this article we will focus on and cover the following topics as well as some extras:

  • Can Solar Panels be Mounted on the Ground?
  • Do You Need Planning Permission for Ground-Mounted Solar Panels?
  • How Are Solar Panels Ground Mounted?
  • What are the Benefits of Ground-Mounted Solar Panels?

How Are Solar Panels Installed on the Ground?

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    Ground Mounted Solar Panels

    While it’s a common sight to see solar panels adorning the roofs of residential buildings, particularly where land is scarce, this setup may not always be ideal for larger or commercial solar projects. Roof installations come with their own set of limitations regarding space and accessibility, which can pose significant challenges for scaling up. This guide addresses these issues by exploring the potential of ground-mounted solar panels as a viable alternative for larger-scale installations.

    Greater Flexibility in Solar Panel Installation

    Ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) panels offer unmatched flexibility compared to rooftop installations. You have the freedom to orient, angle, and arrange the panels in various formations—whether single height, stacked, or in portrait or landscape orientations—to maximise space utilisation. It’s recommended that panels in the UK are positioned facing south to capture the maximum amount of sunlight. But this depends on the type of solar ground mount you choose.

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    Can Solar Panels be Mounted on the Ground?

    Ground-mounted solar panels, also known as PV panels, are an excellent option for commercial enterprises and extensive solar farms dedicated to generating substantial amounts of renewable energy. Our comprehensive guide will equip you with all the necessary information to embark on installing ground-based solar panels.

    Unlike conventional rooftop solar systems, ground-mounted panels are securely installed directly into the ground. This installation method isn't limited to large solar farms; it's also perfectly suitable for residential applications. Whether for vast agricultural lands or a private backyard, ground installations offer flexibility and efficiency.

    Ground-mounted solar panels can be installed using one of two main methods: mounting on a sturdy metal frame or securing onto a single pole. Both methods involve anchoring the structure into the ground, often with concrete, to ensure stability and durability against environmental factors.

    For those seeking to maximise their solar investment, pole-mounted panels can be enhanced with an advanced solar tracking system. These systems dynamically adjust the panels' angle throughout the day to align perfectly with the sun’s trajectory, thereby optimising sunlight capture. Implementing a tracking system can boost panel efficiency by 20% to 35%. It's important to note, however, that while these systems enhance energy output, they do require a small amount of electricity to operate.

    Do You Need Planning Permission for Ground-Mounted Solar Panels?


    Commercial Projects and Large Solar Farms

    Navigating the requirements for planning permission is crucial when considering the installation of ground-mounted solar panels. Whether for commercial projects, expansive solar farms, or residential setups, understanding these regulations ensures a smooth installation process.

    For substantial installations such as commercial projects or solar farms, planning permission is typically required. You will need to apply for permission if your solar installation meets any of the following criteria:

    • Exceeds 4m in height.
    • Is installed less than 5m from the property boundary.
    • Covers an area larger than 9m².
    • Faces a motorway or is situated in a conservation area or nature reserve.
    • Additional solar farms are already present on the property.

    Commercial Installations:

    • Most non-domestic installations below 1 MW are considered permitted developments, subject to certain placement and size restrictions.
    • From December 2023, the 1MW limit has been removed, although other regulations remain unchanged.

    Residential and Domestic Installations

    Domestic Installations:

    • Roof or wall-mounted panels on private houses usually don't need planning permission if they adhere to specific conditions, such as not projecting more than 200mm from the surface on pitched roofs and not extending beyond the roof ridgeline.
    • As of December 2023, new regulations allow a projection of up to 600mm for flat roofs, simplifying the planning process for these installations. However, a structural report is recommended to ensure the roof's capacity to support the system's weight.

    Planning Permission Guidelines

    Residential properties looking to install ground-mounted systems that exceed nine square metres (approximately four to five panels) will require planning permission. For example, a standard system to power a typical three-bedroom home usually comprises about 10 panels, covering around 20 square metres, thus necessitating planning permission. This also applies to properties in listed buildings or near highways, especially if the installation is closer to the highway than to the house itself.

    Wall-Mounted Panels:

    • In conservation areas or World Heritage Sites, planning consent is required if panels are visible from the highway and are mounted on principal or side elevations.

    Ground-Mounted Installations:

    • Typically require planning permission unless the array is smaller than 9m². It’s essential to confirm with your local planning office as definitions and requirements can vary.

    It's always advisable to consult with your local planning office to ensure compliance with the latest regulations and to facilitate a hassle-free installation process.

    How Are Solar Panels Ground Mounted?

    Ground-mounted solar systems offer versatility and efficiency in harnessing solar energy. Understanding the different mounting options available is crucial for selecting the right system based on your specific needs and site conditions.

    Traditional Ground-Mount Systems

    Traditional or standard ground mounts use multiple anchors to secure a racking table that holds the solar panels. The most common anchoring methods include:


    Driven Piers: Best suited for stable, non-rocky soil, driven piers are steel posts driven deep into the soil using hydraulic machinery. This method provides a quick and reliable mounting solution that avoids the need for large-scale excavation, making it a cost-effective option for many projects.

    Helical Piles: Also known as ground screws, these are ideal for installations in areas with challenging soil conditions, such as loose or sandy soils. Helical piles provide a strong, stable foundation without the extensive excavation and concrete typically required. This makes them particularly effective for rural installations or sites that are difficult to access. For an in-depth exploration of how helical piles facilitate solar power in challenging and rural environments, consider reviewing our detailed article on this topic.


    Concrete Ballasts: Ideal for locations where ground penetration must be minimised, such as protected or sensitive sites. Concrete ballasts sit above ground and use the weight of concrete blocks to anchor the solar panel system securely. This method is particularly advantageous for temporary installations or when conditions below the surface are unknown or unsuitable for traditional anchoring techniques.

    Concrete Piers: Renowned for their durability and strength, concrete piers are a preferred choice for many solar panel installations. This method involves pouring concrete into drilled holes, creating a permanent and sturdy base for the solar racking systems. This robust foundation is particularly effective in supporting large-scale solar arrays in various environmental conditions.

    These systems are typically fixed in position, although newer models offer manual adjustments to optimise sun exposure. Due to their simplicity and cost-effectiveness, traditional ground mounts are a popular choice for both residential and commercial installations.

    Pole Mount Systems

    Pole mounts involve installing a single, large pole into a deep ground hole, creating a sturdy base for the solar panels mounted on rails. This setup offers several advantages:

    • Increased Clearance:

      Pole mount systems elevate the solar panels above ground level, ensuring they remain clear of obstructions such as foliage or accumulated snow. This elevation not only protects the panels but also maintains their efficiency and prolongs their lifespan.

    • Animal Shelter:

      Offering dual benefits, pole mounts provide a shaded area where animals can graze and seek refuge from the sun. We also provide specialised sheep guards to ensure that livestock can roam safely without risking damage to your installation or themselves by chewing on exposed wires and components.

    • Enhanced Energy Production:

      By integrating single-axis or dual-axis tracking systems, pole-mounted solar panels can follow the sun’s path across the sky. This optimisation allows for maximum solar energy capture throughout the day, significantly boosting the system’s overall productivity.

    While offering superior energy efficiency, pole mounts, especially those equipped with tracking systems, are more costly than standard ground mounts.

    Tracking Systems

    Tracking systems are advanced solutions that increase a solar array’s productivity by adjusting the panels to follow the sun’s movement across the sky. There are two main types of tracking systems:

    • Single-Axis Trackers:

      These systems enhance solar panel efficiency by allowing the panels to move along a single horizontal axis, from east to west. This movement aligns the panels with the sun’s path during the day, optimising exposure and increasing the energy produced by capturing more sunlight.

    • Dual-Axis Trackers:

      Offering the highest level of solar efficiency, dual-axis trackers allow solar panels to move in two directions, both east-west and north-south. This capability enables the panels to track the sun’s path throughout the day and across seasons more accurately, resulting in superior energy absorption and significantly higher power output.

    Agrivoltaic solar panel

    Tracking systems can use centralised motors to move multiple rows of panels or distributed motors for individual row adjustments. The choice between these systems depends on the specific energy needs and budget considerations.

    Solar Carports and Canopies

    Acting as tall ground mounts, solar carports and canopies are prevalent in commercial environments like schools and business campuses. These structures use reinforced concrete foundations and large steel beams to support overhead solar panels. They can cover varying numbers of parking spaces and often incorporate electric vehicle charging stations, adding significant value to the installation.

    For further insights and detailed discussions on the benefits and installation processes of ground-mounted solar systems, you might consider reading our detailed article on solar carports.

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    Installation Made Simple

    Installing ground-mounted solar panels is much easier than you might expect. At Venture Steel Group, we streamline the process, assisting you at every stage—from initial planning to delivery right to your doorstep. We have developed a straightforward four-step process that ensures smooth and efficient installation.

    Our Four-Step Installation Process

    1. Consultation and Planning:

    We start by understanding your specific energy needs and site specifications. This initial step is crucial for tailoring a solar solution that perfectly fits your requirements.

    2. Design and Engineering:

    Utilising the latest technology and our extensive expertise, we design a solar system that maximises efficiency and meets all regulatory requirements.

    3. Manufacture:

    Our ground-mounted systems are manufactured right here in the UK, ensuring high-quality and durable products are used in your installation.

    4. Delivery and Installation:

    We manage the logistics of delivering all components to your site and ensure a professional installation, setting up your new solar system for optimal performance.

    Ensuring Success in Ground-Mounted Solar Installations

    Before embarking on a ground-mounted solar project, it is crucial to consider all these aspects to ensure a successful installation. Proper planning and preparation will help mitigate the challenges of land use, cost, and wildlife interaction, making your transition to solar energy both efficient and beneficial in the long term.

    For more details on how we can facilitate your move to sustainable energy solutions, visit our Ground Mount Design & Manufacture Process page.

    Key Benefits of Ground-Mounted Solar Panels

    • Increased Capacity for Energy Production:

      By using land specifically for solar panels, you can install a much larger array, which significantly boosts the energy produced. This not only supplies more power for your use but also offers the potential to sell surplus energy back to the electrical grid, enhancing your return on investment.

    • Convenient Maintenance and Upkeep:

      Unlike rooftop systems, ground-mounted solar panels are easily accessible. This accessibility simplifies regular maintenance, cleaning, and any necessary repairs, ensuring your solar panels operate at peak efficiency without the hassle of accessing a roof.

    • Flexibility for Expansion:

      If you’re considering scaling up your solar installation, ground-mounted panels offer the perfect solution. With the availability of additional land, your solar project can grow as needed, making it an ideal choice for long-term energy planning.

    • Optimal Operating Conditions:

      Ground-mounted panels enjoy better ventilation by being installed away from structures. The increased airflow around the panels keeps them cooler, thereby enhancing their efficiency. Overheating is a known issue that can decrease panel efficiency, but ground installation effectively reduces this risk.

    • Enhancement of Biodiversity:

      Solar farms not only generate renewable energy but can also significantly enhance local biodiversity. The reduction in human activity on these sites, combined with proactive environmental measures like planting wildflowers, contributes positively to local ecosystems. These efforts support a variety of wildlife by providing habitats and food sources.
      Furthermore, integrating agrivoltaic farming into solar farm setups offers an additional layer of ecological benefit. This innovative approach merges agriculture with solar energy generation, allowing for the coexistence of crop cultivation and energy production on the same land. The presence of solar panels provides shade, which can reduce water evaporation and create a more hospitable microclimate for both crops and native flora and fauna, thus enhancing biodiversity while optimising land use.


    Agrivoltaic Farming: A Dual Approach to Land Use

    Are you interested in combining agriculture with solar energy generation? Agrivoltaic farming could be the innovative solution you're looking for. This sustainable approach allows for the simultaneous production of crops and solar energy, maximising land use efficiently.

    Commercial Scale Projects

    Agrivoltaic farming integrates solar panels with agricultural land, enabling farming activities beneath the elevated solar panels. This method not only generates renewable energy but also provides shade for crops, which can lead to improved growth conditions and reduced water usage.

    If you're new to this concept or want to explore how agrivoltaic systems can benefit your farming operations and energy needs, delve deeper into the subject by reading our comprehensive guide on what is Agrivoltaic farming.

    Wildlife Interactions

    In rural areas, interaction between wildlife and ground-mounted solar panels is inevitable. While animals like sheep, birds, and foxes generally pose minimal risk to solar infrastructure, there is still potential for damage.

    Animals can chew through wiring, and scratch panels and frames, and their waste can cause corrosion. To mitigate these risks, it is advisable to implement protective measures such as sheep guards and robust cable management systems to safeguard both the solar farm and the wildlife.

    The Ideal Choice for Diverse Applications

    Whether it's for commercial scale projects or enhancing local biodiversity, ground-mounted solar panels provide a versatile and effective solution for a wide range of solar energy needs. Their ability to be installed in various layouts and environments makes them particularly advantageous for locations unsuitable for rooftop installations.

    Contact Venture Steel today to find out how we can help revolutionise your potential space into productive and perhaps profitable space.