Harnessing the Sun: How Companies are Powering Campuses with Solar
Corporations are increasingly adopting on-site solar energy systems to power their campuses and facilities. According to the "Solar Means Business 2022" report released by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), American companies are installing record levels of solar to power their operations and now account for 14% of all installed solar capacity in the United States Installing solar arrays on rooftops, carports, and ground-mounted systems allows companies to reduce electricity costs, curb carbon emissions, and meet ambitious sustainability targets. Read on to learn why corporate campuses make ideal locations for solar and how leading brands are embracing the opportunity.
The economics of solar have become very attractive for companies looking to control their energy costs. According to data from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the average cost of commercial solar panel systems was $1.45 per watt in Q4 2021, less than half the $3.06 per watt for residential systems. The federal Investment Tax Credit, also known as the Solar Tax Credit, offsets 30% of the installation costs for commercial solar projects. For example, if a company pays $75,000 to install a commercial solar system, they can claim a $22,500 tax credit. The Department of Energy has helpful guidance on utilizing the commercial solar tax credit, which is now available at 30% through 2032 due to the Inflation Reduction Act.
Ideal Campus Conditions
Corporate campuses often present ideal conditions for cost-effective, large-scale solar projects. They have considerable rooftop space on warehouses, office buildings, and other structures to host systems. Parking lots and garages are also prime candidates for carport solar canopies that provide shade while generating renewable power.
Companies also frequently control ample acreage surrounding their facilities that can accommodate ground-mounted solar farms. The land is already cleared and proximate to electrical interconnection points. Minimal grading is required for construction since the sites were previously developed. Campuses have existing security infrastructure and personnel available to monitor solar arrays. All of these factors significantly lower development costs compared to raw land solar projects.
High Visibility and Branding
Placing solar arrays directly on corporate campuses provides unique branding and public relations benefits. Employees and visitors immediately see the systems in action, demonstrating the company’s commitment to sustainability. Solar panels and the clean power they provide have a wide public appeal that supports corporate messaging and reputation.
Onsite solar projects offer great storytelling opportunities through press releases, social media, sustainability reports, and event hosting. Apple garnered global media coverage for the 171-acre solar farm powering its North Carolina data center. Companies can conduct solar facility tours and install signage to further recognize these showcase projects.
Meeting Sustainability Goals
Adopting on-site solar helps corporations make meaningful progress towards ambitious greenhouse gas reduction and renewable energy sourcing targets. A significant number of major companies have made commitments to adopt renewable energy or reduce emissions. Estimates indicate that 30% to 63% of Fortune 500 firms have set such sustainability targets. Cost-competitive solar directly enables meeting these public commitments and appealing to environmentally conscious consumers.
The ability to point at specific local solar projects demonstrates to shareholders and the public that sustainability pledges are being fulfilled. Purchasing off site renewable energy certificates provides less visible evidence of taking action on climate change. Solar arrays right on corporate premises offer high-profile proof that a company is walking the talk.
Resilience and Risk Management
Severe weather and grid outages are growing threats that can cause major business disruptions. The US experienced 18 different billion-dollar climate disasters in 2022, per NOAA. Solar energy paired with battery storage provides emergency backup and resiliency when the grid goes down. Solar systems with "islanding" abilities can disconnect from the grid during outages and power critical campus operations for hours or days. This capability minimizes lost productivity and revenue during blackouts caused by hurricanes, wildfires, cyberattacks, or other grid failures.
In addition to physical climate risk protection, onsite solar also reduces regulatory and market risks. Locking in solar pricing through long-term PPAs avoids unpredictable utility rate swings. Companies mitigate the risk of future carbon taxes increasing their electricity costs. Being on-site also avoids transmission bottlenecks that can constrain renewable energy supply.
Specialized commercial solar providers like GAIN Renewables simplify the process for corporations to deploy on-campus solar projects. With extensive experience in the commercial solar sector, GAIN Renewables provides turnkey solutions encompassing design, engineering, financing, regulatory approvals, construction, operations, and maintenance. This allows companies to adopt solar swiftly and efficiently.
Reach out to GAIN Renewables today at tad@GAINrenewables.com to discuss the solar opportunities for your corporate campus. We can provide a comprehensive assessment of potential rooftop, carport, and ground-mount solar systems tailored to your specific facilities and energy needs. Take advantage of turnkey solar solutions to reduce costs, manage risks, attain sustainability targets, and power your operations renewably with clean on-site energy.