What Type of Commercial Solar Power Should You Choose for Your Business?
Industrial or commercial solar energy or solar power comes in a variety of technologies for a range of uses. For commercial customers looking to go green, photovoltaic (PV) solar energy is a great option. Photovoltaic solar power is when photons of light in the sun’s rays are converted directly into electricity via silicon wafers. Current PV technology is efficient at converting ~15% of the energy input into useful solar powered electricity. This can be higher for more exotic and expensive commercial solar energy systems, designs and applications.
Solar panels are relatively light weight with a typical panel measuring about 66” by 40” and weighing no more than 50 lbs. This weight loading is far less per square foot than the average person walking on a roof. A typical panel of this size can produce 200-250 Watts. Because of their modular size and plug-and-play DC to AC conversion equipment, solar is very scalable.
These panels can be installed in fixed arrays placed at the optimal angle for solar energy production throughout the year or with a tracking system that will follow the sun from morning to evening and adjust the angle to the sun through the year. Obviously, there are trade-offs in electrical output, as well as upfront capital and ongoing operation and maintenance (O&M) costs. What will work best for your commercial business depends on your situation.
With the reduction in solar energy costs and available tax credits, solar is becoming an increasingly popular alternative — even in areas traditionally not considered suited for solar power, including the Midwest.
Commercial solar or industrial solar power projects can be used in conjunction with other green energy applications.
If you think a commercial or industrial solar power project may be a fit for your application, you should consider:
- How much electrical capacity can your project support?
- Where will the solar panels be located?
- If you are considering roof-mounted solar panels, can your roof support the “lift” caused by updraft effects?
- Will your local utility company require an interconnect agreement?
- What other permits will be required?
- Does your local utility company allow “net metering”?
- Are there any zoning or neighbor issues the project will create?
- Do you have enough space to site the solar equipment?
- Will you need transformers or conversion equipment to make the electricity usable at your industrial facility?
- Do you have the expertise to operate and maintain the equipment (i.e., is it part of your core business)?
- What green energy tax credits are available from your state and federal governments?
- What investment tax credits are available from the state and federal governments?
- Are there utility incentives for green energy?
If a commercial or industrial solar energy system looks like a fit for your project, contact IEA and one of our experts can guide you through the project screening and development processes.
Financing / Ownership / Outsourcing
IEA can own, operate and maintain your solar energy project or provide a turnkey solution with asset management services to support ongoing operations and maintenance for projects owned directly by customers.