Solar is becoming a desirable energy option in the energy mix, thanks to falling costs, making it cost competitive with fossil fuels. Last year, US capacity grew 95% in 2016 with 14.62GW of new capacity added. Commercial installations have increased since 2012 from 300MW to 1 GW Many businesses are beginning to see the possibilities of going solar. , and represents 16% of all US non-utility-scale, non-residential solar PV capacity.

While large companies like Target, Walmart, and Microsoft invest in solar PV, the question remains, especially for small businesses who are on the fence, is it worth the investment?

"One advantage for business investment in solar is having the peace of mind that energy costs will be the same, while limiting volatility of energy prices."

Advantages of Solar PV

There are many benefits of investing in solar power as an electricity source. One advantage for business investment in solar is having the peace of mind that energy costs will be the same, while limiting volatility of energy prices. On average, before going solar, businesses paid $1,950 monthly for electricity. Once companies add solar, they noticed a 75 % decreasedin their bills to $517/month. This provides a monthly savings of $1,433, or $17,146 in yearly costs. It takes 3-7 years for companies to pay the startup costs while ensuring a generation of free, clean electricity (25-35 years), and minimal maintenance costs (examples include wiring maintenance, monitoring, or if the inverter does not communicate). Business owners get tremendous savings while looking to reallocate those funds to grow their business.

Once solar is installed, future energy price volatility can be reduced.

In recent years, there have been improved solar financing options to entice commercial enterprises and consumers to go solar to reduce their energy costs, and use a clean electricity source. Created under the 2005 Energy Policy Act, The Federal government offers the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). Businesses receive a 30% tax credit when they install a solar system up front. Power Purchase Agreements (PPA’s) provide another option for businesses who may not be able to afford the upfront costs of a solar rooftop system. Businesses who also install solar are more likely to build goodwill capital among customers. Companies are showing customers that they are taking the lead in the fight against climate change by installing rooftop solar, to reduce carbon emissions, which is the largest green house emitter fueling global warming. Solar power has offset 37 million metric tons of carbon emissions. By installing solar, businesses are also supporting the local economy, as residents do the installations. Greater demand is created, while increasing the higher quality of paying jobs in the local area.

"With the opportunity to save money, hedge against price volatility, build goodwill capital with customers by reducing carbon emissions, and supporting the local economy, going solar for businesses can be a bright, sunny investment."

Challenges of Solar Installation

As solar provides significant benefits as mentioned, there are some challenges business owners need to review before going ahead with adding solar. Solar may not work for every roof top because older materials on roofs may provide some concerns with installers. Meanwhile, roof decks and other additions on apartment buildings can increase the cost of solar installation, However, this will not be a future barrier for the future as solar power continues its evolution. Solar may not also be a good fit for those businesses who are planning a move within the short-term. Analysts suggest an average payback period is 7.5 years on a solar system.

Bright Investment

With the opportunity to save money, hedge against price volatility, build goodwill capital with customers by reducing carbon emissions, and supporting the local economy, going solar for businesses can be a bright, sunny investment.