If you're a business owner, you may be wondering if solar power is right for your company. With commercial solar panel systems becoming more affordable and energy prices rising, many businesses are going solar to reduce their electricity bills and carbon footprint. However, determining if your business is suited for solar involves evaluating several factors.
Location and sun exposure
The amount of sun your building's rooftop or property receives plays a big role in its suitability. Usually, sites that get full, unshaded sun for a good portion of the day are best suited for solar. Even if parts of the rooftop are shaded, solar can still work if the majority of the area gets 5–6 hours of direct sunlight. Urban buildings may have more shading from adjacent structures. Use a solar isolation map to estimate sun exposure.
The age, warranty status, and structural integrity of your roof also need to be assessed. Most solar panels are warranted for 25 years, so an aging roof may need replacement before the solar system's lifespan is up. The roof must be able to structurally support the additional weight load of the solar array as well. Ideal roofs are flat or have a slight pitch, with strong integrity and years of life left.
A business with substantial daytime energy usage can maximize the savings from generating its own solar power. Look at past electricity bills to understand your hourly, daily, and monthly consumption patterns and size the system appropriately. Businesses with variable load profiles can also benefit from pairing solar with energy storage.
The roof or ground area must have enough unshaded square footage to accommodate the number of panels needed to meet your energy needs. Typically, 100 square feet can support a 6–8 kW commercial system. Consult a solar provider to assess if you have adequate space for your projected system size.
The upfront cost, available tax credits and incentives, financing options, and projected bill savings will determine if solar offers a good return on investment for your business. Third-party ownership through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) can reduce upfront costs. The federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) offers a 26% tax credit.
Your business must be connected to the grid, with net metering available to send excess solar power back to the grid. Virtual net metering can share solar credits if your property has multiple meters. Discuss options with your utility.
Evaluating these factors will give you a sense of whether your property is suited for commercial solar. Contact our solar professionals to get a site assessment and solar savings estimate for your business today! For a customized assessment of your commercial solar potential, reach out to us at GAIN Renewables: tad@GAINRenewables.com.