How many solar panels do I need?

With the development of online solar tools/solar maps, any business owner can be able to determine whether going solar will make any economic sense while inputting very minimal data. All that is needed is the location and an estimation of your current energy bill. Solar online tools have simplified the need to call solar developers during the preliminary stage of the solar project. At this stage, you probably don’t need to call solar developers because you can make an estimation of whether going solar is worth it based on specific data sets that can be figured out using these tools.

The following are some aspects of going solar that you might want to consider to help you determine or decide whether going solar is a preferred option for your commercial building.

  1. Solar online tools will provide you with your solar energy potential or solar yield that can be generated on your rooftop.
  2. These tools will give you solar financing options, including leasing, solar PPA, solar loans and cash options. Each of these financing options will provide you with their estimated savings over the lifespan of your solar panel hence allowing you to make a judgment based on estimated savings to be achieved in the long-term.
  3. Also from the personalized solar reports generated after inputting your details, you can capture your current energy requirements with your current utility rates versus future rates when solar is included can be generated to help you determine future energy savings.
  4. Sizing of your PV system which is critical for commercial projects will also be captured. In this regard, you will be able to answer the question “how many solar panels do I need” in order to go solar. The size of your commercial solar  PV system can range anywhere from 10kW and above depending on the size or energy requirements of your business. Hence, how many solar panels you need for your PV system determines whether your project will be successful and to what extent it will be. Your PV system needs to be sized correctly in order to enjoy all your solar benefits. Oversizing your system can lead to wasted energy production while undersizing will result in reducing your return on investment or other opportunities. Today there are various monitoring systems that can help you to determine your solar production on a real-time basis. TED for solar is one monitoring system that will provide you with insights into your solar energy investment as it monitors your PV system to give you the following data:
    • Solar energy production
    • Solar energy consumption
    • Net solar usage
  5. Lastly, with the help of online solar tools and assistance from solar developers, you can get more specific details into the financials of your solar project. These data help you to draw conclusions on whether to proceed with your solar project. You personalized solar report will provide you with the following details for you to decide whether going solar is actually profitable for your business that is,
    • Expected initial investment cost
    • Expected solar yields (solar potential)
    • Estimated payback period
    • Estimated return on investment
    • Financing options with each one presenting you with estimated savings potential.

How many solar panels do I need? Get your personalized report and find out the other details that will help make a more informed decision even before you consult solar developers. Get started now.

What makes online solar tools a reliable source for researching about solar energy for solar developers and end-users?

With solar power becoming a more affordable source of energy and in states like Hawaii where the cost of solar power already equals that of other sources at current electricity prices (grid parity). Grid parity is expected to become the trend for many places across the US by 2020. As a result, local governments, states and the federal government as well as the private sector have developed online solar tools or  solar maps that combine topographical data, meteorological data and financial to equip a wide range of stakeholders with useful information for decision making.

Online solar tools for solar developers

For solar developers, the degree of accuracy is of importance when it comes to solar project development and LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging Data) is a great solution, but very costly and many LiDAR projects are funded by local, state or the federal government to eliminate such costs to the private sector.

LiDAR provides the greatest degree of accuracy. LiDAR create 3 dimensional digital models that analyses the impact of shading on solar projects through identification of shading obstructions, roof tilts as well as an estimation of the area available for a specific solar installation.

However, LiDAR only provides topographical data which when combined with meteorological and financial data will help provide solar developers with useful information about a specific solar project in a short time. Using such solar online tools, solar developers save time with remote site analysis and can design and quote a commercial solar system from their desk. However, for commercial solar projects, it is up to solar developers to find and compare solar resource and weather data from various sources (both private and public) to reduce project uncertainty that will impact the financial viability of the project. Finding reliable weather data (including precipitation, wind speed and temperature) are essential for estimating PV system production and financial returns. Therefore any project uncertainty can impact on the future financial projections or performance of the PV system.

Online solar tools for homeowners and businesses

Online solar tools for prospecting solar customers are helpful to help them research on their specific solar power potential of their homes or businesses. These solar online tools can help homeowners and businesses to educate themselves when it comes to how to go solar and whether going solar will be beneficial to them and to what extent. Online solar tools provide solar estimates of the following specific information similar to solar developers. This information includes but not limited to:

  • Cost of installation
  • Financing options
  • Potential energy savings
  • Payback times
  • Solar PV system size (How many solar panels do I need)
  • Solar maintenance requirements
  • Life span for the PV system
  • Pre-screened solar installers
  • Solar developers

In addition, online solar tools can be used for all sizes of PV projects and will provide site specific data taking into consideration, topographical, meteorological and financial data necessary to help homeowners decide or make more informed decisions when it comes to going solar.

Get started today with EnergySage, which is used by over one million people every year to help them research and shop for solar while taking into consideration the above solar design questions.

Developing commercial solar projects – How to get help from solar developers!

Who are solar developers? 

Solar developers assist project owners to develop their commercial solar projects. These professionals are versed with technical, business/finance, legal and project development skills necessary to develop commercial solar projects for the industrial or utility sectors. 

Some common uses of commercial solar power 

Commercial solar presents the industrial sector with opportunities to save money, reduce their carbon footprint as well as improving a company’s corporate social and responsibility (CSR) agenda.

In particular, solar PV technology is seen as a viable option, but since a lot of energy consumed in industries is in the form of heat; solar PV and solar thermal are used in combination to meet the energy requirements or electrical loads of a specific industry. 

Commercial solar can either be installed on the rooftop or ground-mounted. In companies where the rooftop space is limited, ground mounted or putting up rooftop structures in the parking lot usually helps to create space to install your solar panels.

Some common uses of commercial solar include, but not limited to:

  • Heating water using solar thermal to provide steam required in many industrial facilities.
  • Cooling or refrigeration and solar water pumping solutions.
  • Solar PV can be used to charge batteries used for forklift trucks hence reducing energy consumption.
  • Depending on what electrical loads that an industrial company may have, solar can provide upto 90% of daily energy thus helping to lower significantly any operating costs thereby improving a company’s competitiveness.
  • Solar PV will be huge in providing lighting solutions for industrial facilities or for street and parking lighting.
  • Solar PV can be used to run your computer infrastructure system, including your network and server systems.
  • Solar air conditioning and heating solutions.

These uses are just a few applications of solar PV or solar thermal. One of the main advantage of thinking to go install commercial solar panels is to maintain fixed costs for your power for the next 20 to 25 years. With commercial solar power, you can hedge your energy costs against the volatile costs of diesel or other sources of power.

The size of commercial solar projects may range between 100kW to 500kW for small to medium size solar projects while big commercial solar projects range over 500KW. Although commercial solar, especially small to medium commercial solar projects may have project development challenges since the transaction costs associated with these types of projects are huge and comparable with those of utility scale solar. This increases the cost of financing hence affecting the bankability of small to medium size solar projects.

The role of solar developers in developing commercial solar projects 

As such that’s where solar developers can help companies interested in developing small-medium size commercial solar projects. Solar developers have the knowledge to develop these types of projects from scratch and will advise your project team when it comes to starting such projects. Solar developers are good at:

  • Proposing financial or project structures to help your project take off
  • Advising on regulatory and licensing issues surrounding your commercial solar project.
  • Advice when it comes to grid interconnection
  • Developing a bankable solar Project
  • The type of solar panels suitable for your project.

To learn more above solar developers, please visit this article

Online solar tools to connect you with solar developers in your local area.

Before starting a solar project you want to conduct a preliminary analysis to determine costs, potential savings and estimate the solar potential of the commercial solar project. Nowadays with technologies like LiDAR, it is possible to ascertain how much sunshine is hitting your rooftop and hence quantify your solar potential. Visit EnergySage to determine your solar potential, including potential solar savings and how to get finance information about your solar project using online solar tools, like the solar marketplace and solar calculators.

Also, there are various case studies regarding commercial solar projects to help you with first hand information before deciding to start this process. Please visit EnergySage to learn from industry best practices and get advised on how you can start your own commercial solar project.

Solar developers will help you to solve the solar financing problem

Solar developers come handy when it comes to developing complex solar projects such as commercial solar projects. With regards to project financing, their role is to assess project costs and determine project-financing schemes that are suitable to make a specific solar PV project bankable.

Solar developers conduct various solar feasibility studies to assess the technical, economic and financial aspects of the commercial solar project. These studies also capture the project costs of the commercial solar project such as:
• Project preparation costs, including feasibility, engineering, design and legal advice costs
• Capital expenditure (CAPEX)
• Operating expenditure (OPEX)
• Grid connection and compliance

When it comes to financing the commercial solar project, a solar developer will determine the various sources of financing including, but not limited to:
• Internal capital
• Commercial lending
• Equity lending
• Public grants and incentives

In addition, solar developers have different ways of using a combination of these sources of financing or as a standalone and sometimes solar developers would work with Engineering Procurement Companies (EPCs) to structure project financing instruments that will achieve a higher return on investment (ROI).

In the USA, the common solar PV financing instruments revolve around cash, power purchase agreements (PPAs), and leasing and loan options. When a solar system is purchased using the cash option, the savings to the end-user is higher compared to those projects that are developed under PPA and loan arrangements. Under the PPA, the end-user does not own the PV system, but solar investors through a third party agreement do own the system and the end-user makes payments per kWh consumed. PPA and leasing financial models are almost similar, but in leasing the end-user makes a recurrent payment for using the hardware equipment (solar PV system). The loan option involves making a regular payment toward paying to eventually own the solar power plant. Under the loan option, the end-user will enjoy savings once the system has paid itself or after the payback period.

Since the upfront cost of a solar PV system is high, most governments use de-risking instruments to assist to bring down the cost of solar to a level where the ROI is suitable for investors or reduce the risk of the project and encourage private sector finance. In the USA, the Federal and State governments use tax credits to attract private sector finance in solar PV development projects. The federal solar tax credit, also called the investment tax credit (ITC) helps to reduce the cost of installing a solar energy system with 30% that is deducted from your federal taxes. This tax credit is applied to both residential and commercial solar power systems.

In other countries, governments and international organizations have developed de-risking instruments, including loan guarantees, grants and other financing mechanisms to reduce or eliminate financial risks associated with commercial solar PV projects. Solar developers in these countries work with these organizations to assist them in grant and loan applications that will help to reduce project financial risks and make a commercial solar project more cost effective or profitable for private investors.

If you are looking for assistance on how to go about your commercial solar project and are in search of solar developers to assist you with project financing for your commercial solar project, please fill the form below. Also if you have questions regarding de-risking instruments for solar projects, please fill free to get in touch with us.

When do you need solar consultants or solar developers for your PV project?

When it comes to the development of ‘big solar’ or commercial solar you perhaps need more technical research and more investment in terms of money and time. Since solar development may not be your core business, you probably need to hire solar consultants or solar developers to advice you whether solar energy will be the right thing to do based on various factors. These factors could range from solar panel financing, return on investment (ROI), solar PV system performance, interconnection to the grid and what type of solar panels to install. In many cases, when solar developers are called upon it is because of the complexity or the nature of the solar project.When it comes to such types of projects, project development costs could be prohibitive and you might need to consider contacting solar developers whose main job is usually advisory in nature in providing the following advisory or technical services:

  1. Solar financing and return on investment
  2. Solar design and project development
  3. Solar permitting and licensing
  4. Solar interconnection to the grid
  5. Solar plant operation and maintenance

All these aspects of big solar will involve different experts ranging from engineers, architects, finance and regulatory experts while solar developers with such expertise will help you structure your solar PV project to be in compliance with the set design, regulatory and licensing requirements. Different countries have different set requirements and your solar consultants will advise on the different situations presented in those countries.One of the main jobs of solar consultants or solar developers is to structure a solar project that is bankable and with the decreasing solar PV costs in some countries, solar projects are becoming an attractive option especially in regions with good solar irradiation potential. According to IRENA, utility-scale solar PV projects have become cost competitive and are now competing with conventional sources of energy. Solar PV projects with good enabling environments (economic, policy and regulatory) can deliver electricity for just US 5 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) without subsidies and costs as low as US 3 cents/kwh according to IRENA.

In addition, solar developers providing economic and regulatory advice, such solar consultants will be able advice on the technology aspects and solar irradiation potential. They will also look at the engineering aspects of the project and advice on the best solar panels to adopt, where to place the solar panels to get optimum solar electricity output, the structural design to consider, and how to avoid system failure or under performance of the PV system. Also, since solar developers are regular customers to solar PV manufacturers, they are better placed to get the best solar panels and at good prices because they have a network of many customers and hence buying in bulk to lower the overall cost of your solar PV technology.

Since the main objective of finding solar developers is to be assisted in developing bankable solar PV projects; getting your solar financing aspects right from the beginning is one of the critical aspects of the such projects. This is because many companies that opt to adopt commercial solar treat these projects as an investment; first to hedge against the increasing electricity prices and second to recoup their investment once a viable project start paying for itself after the pay-back period. There are different instruments or mechanisms that can be used to finance your project depending on the location.

In many countries, governments have designed tax credits, incentive schemes, subsidies and financing companies have loan guarantees to assist the private sector  in reducing the overall burden of going solar. The upfront cost of solar panels can be prohibitive and therefore many solar developers can advice to let solar investors own the technology through solar PPA or solar lease and reduce their financial burden of going solar, but still save on their electricity costs or  improve the image of their company as a green company. However, motivations for companies going solar are different and hence some companies may opt to go with the loan option to save more money in the long-term after the payback period. Payback periods are different in different countries or states where the solar panels are installed.

However, since going solar is a huge step depending on the complexity or the nature of the project, it is worthwhile to be knowledgeable about the solar project before embarking on it. Starting with online solar tools could help you determine whether in actual fact to start the project or not depending on the preliminary results you get while using such free online solar tools. These tools will save you a lot of time and trouble trying to gather all the above information at once.

Online solar tools can provide you with a pre-feasibility analysis will almost near accurate data based on your geographical location. These tools use longitudes and latitudes or geographical coordinates to ascertain how much solar energy your rooftop is likely to produce. These tools pull from different database information such as whether, solar irradiation, and other data to give you a brief on how much you are are likely to save when you decide to go solar.

In the USA, EnergySage, Geostellar, Google Project Sunroof and other companies utilize these tools to help online users in deciding about going solar by just typing in their location. These tools use Google solar map to provide you with your solar potential, savings and connect you with solar developers in your local area.EnergySage has a powerful online platform as it can give you all the information you will need to know about your project.

  1. It will connect you with solar developers including solar installers that are already pre-screened by their system
  2. It will compare different solar quotes from different solar developers or solar consultants
  3. It will compare and advice different solar panels from different solar providers giving you their customer ratings, solar panel efficiency, best solar panels you should consider among many other design specifications of your PV technology.

In-conjunction with  using solar consultants or solar developers; online solar tools will prepare you to make an informed solar decision to supplement the information you will get from your solar consultants or solar developers.  Also online platforms have a database of pre-screened solar consultants or solar developers and will save you the time for sourcing solar developers. Visit EnergySage by clicking here to start your process.

You can also sign up below here to get your free personalized solar report. 

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