It’ll save my business money.
I want to go green.
I don’t want to pay high electricity prices anymore.
These are all reasons a business chooses to "go solar" – install a system that produces electricity by capturing energy from the sun on their business. But why should YOU go solar?
Frank Bucceri, VP of Development and Construction at Clean Energy Nexus, tells us clients typically ask us 3 questions when they express interest in going solar.
- Do I have the physical space for a solar system?
- How will it impact my business?
- How much does it cost?
You can’t go solar if you don’t have room for solar panels at your physical location, and it doesn’t make sense to invest in a solar energy system if you’re not planning on staying in that location for less than 10 years. Typically, solar panels are installed on a roof, in a field, or as canopies over a parking lot. Impediments to these are consistent shade or a low sunlight locale, or a physically degrading structure or a structure unable to support the additional weight of solar panels.
Business impact depends entirely on the approach you take. It can be little to none if you work with a fully integrated company that will run the project for you, or you can choose to manage a part or all of the project yourself. If the latter is the case, plan to hire or direct a full-time employee towards that project for a minimum of one year. If you choose the former approach, the solar project will begin affecting the business when it’s built and turned on and you start saving money.
In 2021, a completed solar system costs around $1.45 per watt, according to Bucceri. As the solar industry gains momentum and the supply of solar panels increases, that cost is subsequently decreasing. You’ll likely find that 5 years from now, that price will be much lower. However, 5 years from now you’ll have lost out on 5 years of electricity savings. It’s six in one hand and half a dozen in the other.
There are a number of options for system pricing, so here are the two basics. The first option involves zero upfront capital from the business owner, and instead allows investors to provide the capital to build the system in exchange for the tax credits or a monthly or yearly dividend and ownership of the system at the end of the term, usually with an option for the business owner to buy the system from the investor at that time. The second involves upfront capital from the business owner to purchase and build the system and direct ownership of the system from the start. The benefit of owning the system outright includes ownership of the solar renewable energy tax credits, and also places the responsibility of maintenance and repair of the system directly on the business owner. There are a number of differentiators within these options.
Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to building a solar energy system; what’s best for one business doesn’t work for the next. We recommend doing your research and having a consultation with a company that will take the time to review your electricity usage and right-size a system that will fit with your physical space and electricity needs. If you’re also looking for an investor, look for a solar integrator that’s a one-stop-shop for investments and construction along with engineering and ongoing maintenance.