Does solar power makes sense for business?
In New Zealand, while there are by late 2013 over one million residential solar systems in place, the commercial solar update has been somewhat slower, even though for businesses where solar generation and energy consumption patterns are relatively matched, a payback of less than for residential systems can be achieved for quality solar systems.
One of the key considerations for ROI is the price for electricity, which the potential commercial solar system customer is paying. If the electricity consumption is enormous eg for a large printing company and therefore the only pay 3-5cents per kWh, then it will be hard for solar to achieve an excellent pay pack. On the other hand should the business be a carwash or a medical clinic or a restaurant with long opening hours and a relative high electricity cost per kWh then solar system pay backs can become very attractive.
In a commercial system, even more than for residential systems it is important to chose quality panels and inverters, as the amounts of money involved are significant larger than for small residential solar systems. If cheap panels or cheap inverters fail, if panel manufacturer go out of business or if the panel performs poorly - in all of these circumstances the commercial solar system owner is losing electricity, pays the price and is likely to be out of pocket.
The quality of the warranty and the warranty fine print are also very important for large scale systems. For example how is the output of the system guaranteed? Is the labor component for changing a panel should it be faulty be covered by the client, the installer or the panel manufacturer? Make sure you get the answers to all key questions in writing from the installers and the component manufacturers.
Finally, just because a solar system makes financial sense with a ROI – which I have seen as low a 3-4 years for commercial systems, it does not mean the local energy, company will actually let you install a relatively large system. As solar is becoming more and more a commercial competitor to the existing electricity retailer’s business model, connection difficulties to the grid have been raised as a reason why some larger solar systems will not get connection approval.
The 1st step for any customer exploring commercial solar opportunities is to contact an experienced installer and have the roof suitability, return on investment rate and connection to the grid issues examined. Feel free to contact any of the authorised LG solar dealer network installers.