If you’re a business owner, among the many concerns you wrestle with day-to-day is, of course, your power bill. You pay for electricity consumed by everything from the lights and computers and electronics in your building to running industrial machinery. Electricity enables your business’s operation — but it doesn’t always come cheap.
You may be wondering if generating your own electricity with solar PV can offset that cost. The answer is yes, it can: in the right circumstances.
Reduce Your Cost by Reducing Your Need
The first rule when it comes to solar energy is don’t pay more for a solar PV installation than you need to. So, one way to make sure your solar installation is sized properly and more economically feasible is to first ensure that steps have been taken to reduce your need for electricity. If you have inefficient appliances, lighting, and so on, you’re better off investing money to reduce your electrical load instead of paying for a larger solar PV system. In many cases, investments in energy savings initiatives will also have a faster payback period than solar PV. Getting an energy assessment and moving forward with energy reduction initiatives can get you on track for a smaller solar array.
If further greening your energy use is still a goal after your efficiency initiatives, solar PV is definitely worth considering, and now you won’t need as many panels: driving the cost needed for an installation down quite a bit.
Where Does Your Building Face?
The direction your building faces can make a big difference. Ideally, your building’s roof will have great south-facing exposure to the sun so that your array is able to be productive throughout the entire day. You can still generate the same annual production with buildings that have East or west-facing roof tops, but your array will be less productive, making it less efficient. Flat roofs are also feasible for solar PV panels.
Consider your Retailer Rates
For solar PV systems in Alberta under 150 kW, it may be worth considering engaging an electricity retailer that allows you to switch to a higher rate for your peak solar production months of March through October. Under the scenario, drawing from the grid will be more expensive; but if you’re exporting a large portion of your energy, you will receive a premium for it during these peak months. Careful analysis and consideration of consumption and production has to be given to ensure that this strategy makes financial sense.
Lock in Your Electricity Prices
When analyzing the financial payback for investing in a solar PV system don’t just use today’s electricity prices when you’re considering whether solar PV is right for you. We expect electricity costs to continue to rise in Alberta, and when you install a solar PV system, you’re essentially buying your electricity in bulk for a fixed price over next 25-40 years. That’s 25 years at a secure price you can establish today.
Avoiding a Large Upfront Solar Cost
Once your solar panels are installed, they’re generating electricity with little upkeep and input costs. However, you have to purchase and install the panels first, and that can come with a heavy upfront investment. A way to eliminate the need for the upfront cash is to finance the solar PV installation through the electricity savings generated by the system.
Financing options range from loans to lease agreements, and later this year, the PACE program will also come into effect. Standing for Property Assessed Clean Energy, PACE will allow homeowners and business owners alike to pay for clean energy upgrades with their property taxes. This ties the loan to the property rather than the owner, which can be a great benefit if you’re not certain of your long-term commitment to a property.
Explore the Incentives
In Alberta, Municipal Climate Change Action Centre, Alberta Agriculture, and Alberta Indigenous Relations all provide incentives for commercial businesses, non-profits, institutions and home owners. Check to see what program you are eligible under, and take advantage on funding that will cut down on the upfront costs required.
Get Started with an Energy Assessment
Every building and every business has different needs. The best way to truly understand how solar PV can save you money and reduce your emissions is to get an energy. This service will discover all the specific ways you can save on energy costs for your building: including the suitability of a solar installation.