It is used to be that going solar is for going green because of the economics involved. About a decade ago, solar PV did not appeal to many businesses that might lack the extra cash to invest in solar PV because it was expensive than buying electricity from the grid.
However, today the falling prices of solar modules have proved that solar can do well even without regulatory support in some countries in Africa that are able to generate solar at between $0.10 to 0.14/kWh in the commercial and industrial sector. This shows that solar PV is reaching grid parity – a point where the cost of producing power from solar PV panel is equal to or less than buying from the grid.
With such grid parity, we expect the uptake of solar PV to grow tremendously since customers see the benefits of going solar. In countries that have reached grid parity, businesses no longer see solar is just for going green, but also for helping to grow their businesses in a way that eliminates extra energy costs.
In the USA, solar PV had reached grid-parity in 20 out of 50 US states in 2016 according to Greentech media. A further 22 states are expected to follow by 2020. As a result, by 2020, we expect 42 out of 50 states to have reached grid parity.
For businesses, reaching grid parity means investing in solar panels will be attractive and companies can lock in part of their electricity costs in the future when the cost of solar panels is less than the retail cost of the electricity. Businesses don’t have to wait for longer period of times for their solar panels to payback themselves with payback periods of between 5 to 7 years.
Although this does not mean, going solar for the sake of going green is bad at all! It is actually one of the best reasons to go solar, because it means your business is doing it for posterity or sustainability. Businesses that go solar for these reasons also enjoy indirect benefits such as good reputation and increased customer retention just because of their mission and purpose in the area of sustainability or sustainable development.
Today going solar is beneficial in many ways and especially when you are able to understand your energy profile and carbon footprint using data and visualization. It is great way to help your businesses save and reduce your energy costs. Since the fuel for solar which is sunlight is free; once your equipment is paid off (for example, after 5-7 years), the remaining 15-20 years, it means your business can save with going solar the amount they would have paid otherwise without solar. As such, today there are various online tools like the EnergySage that can help you figure out your estimated savings by just typing in your business address.
Commercial and Industrial (C&I) solar has a big potential in the future, especially when grid parity is reached. We expect huge and potential savings to help businesses save money, especially for businesses that use a lot of power for heating and cooling, refrigeration, lighting etc. Companies can increase their competitive edge because of avoided electricity costs as a result of going solar. If you are a business and you are interested in finding out your estimated costs for going solar, please see this solar panel cost calculator to determine how much you can save with solar.