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If you drive through any given residential area the U.S. these days, you’ll probably see solar panels on at least a few houses. It’s hard to miss them on people’s roofs. As a business owner, this may create the sense that solar energy is primarily a renewable energy solution only for homeowners. Not so.
While it is true that commercial solar installations are still trailing behind residential, the gap has closed considerably over the past few years. Of the 10.6 GW of solar capacity that was added in the U.S. in 2018, roughly 57% was utility-scale, 23% was residential, and nearly 20% was the result of commercial installations.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) trade association: “U.S. businesses are increasingly turning to solar energy as a cost-effective means of powering their operations. Apple leads the nation with the most solar capacity installed, followed closely by Amazon, Target, Walmart and Switch.”
So what exactly is motivating big players like Apple and Amazon to go solar?
There are several key advantages for businesses:
1) Lower Electric Costs
It’s hard to argue with using the sun, a free resource, to power a company’s offices, facilities, or even retail locations, rather than paying a utility company for the same electricity. Even if the use of solar energy only offsets some of the overall power usage, it can still create huge savings for a business.
2) Hedge Against Rising or Spiking Costs
However much it costs to buy electricity from a major utility company this year, odds are good it will cost more next year. And any number of economic, political, or even natural fluctuations could create pricing spikes without notice, creating undue stress on your bottom line. Which only strengthens the case for relying on a more stable and predictable energy resource like solar.
3) Going Green Is Good
Financial impact aside, it’s been well-established by now that the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity is heavily impacting the planet by creating pollution and greenhouse gases, resulting in drastic climate change. Switching to or even relying in part on solar energy means your business would do its part to slow and potentially reverse the damage that’s already been done.
At their website SolarMeansBusiness.com, the SEIA provides details about how and why the commercial businesses generating the most solar power in the U.S. today are going about it. They also break down commercial solar usage state by state, and show how the overall cost for businesses to install solar has dropped year over year, falling 63% over the past decade alone.
Perhaps the most encouraging statistic found on the site, though, for those interested in a green future, is this one: “[Commercial solar use] has also had a meaningful impact on corporate climate goals, with commercial solar PV systems offsetting 7.5 million metric tons of CO2 annually, equivalent to taking 1.6 million cars off the road each year.”
The bottom line is that whether a company installs solar panels on the roof of their corporate headquarters or on top of a parking canopy at a retail location, going solar is simply a smart business decision.What’s more, it benefits both the company itself and the future welfare of the planet at large.
To learn more about the state of solar energy in the U.S. and how your business can take advantage of this technology, be sure to check out the SEIA website, and consider attending their Solar Goes Corporate event coming up in November.