Solar power is heating up the energy industry, and businesses across the nation are starting to make the switch. The rising demand for solar is sparked by a few factors, including major shifts in U.S. energy policy, heightened tax incentives, and calls to prepare the grid for unprecedented stressors. These factors all contribute to strong, valid reasons for businesses to switch to solar, but there are both pros and cons that commercial clients should weigh before making a decision.
A Quick Look Into The Rise Of Solar Power
Renewables are having their heyday and solar is leading the charge, partly in thanks to the outcome of the 2020 presidential election. Upon taking office, President Joe Biden set a sweeping $3 trillion economic recovery plan into motion, prioritizing renewables in an effort to build sustainable infrastructure and a future run on clean energy. Under the Biden plan, solar and other renewables will see a significant investment from the government and receive a 10-year extension to tax credits.
It’s not just the tax breaks that have businesses eyeing renewables, either. About 40% of the energy produced in the U.S. is utilized by businesses, which means that energy efficiency and conservation is top of mind for many. Given the plummeting costs of solar in recent years, businesses have switched to solar in an effort to lower operations costs and utility bills.
What’s more, recent spikes in the severity of natural disasters have exposed weak spots in the nation’s grid. The Texas energy crisis is a prime example of what happens when energy systems are underinvested. Some businesses are considering alternative energy options to seek independence from underprepared grids to mitigate the risks of major disruptions.
Despite all of these factors contributing to solar’s popularity, not all businesses are ready to make the switch. Many are still hurdling the challenges of adapting from the COVID-19 era to post-pandemic life. That’s where energy brokers come in: the easier they can make it to weigh options in regards to solar, the better they can serve their commercial clients.
The Pros of Going Solar
Businesses get tax cuts
The federal solar tax credit is known as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), and it enables businesses and homeowners to deduct up to 30% of their solar energy installation costs from their federal taxes. With an extension on the horizon, it’s only more likely that businesses will start scooping up solar to lower their tax rates.
Taxpayers can take advantage of accelerated depreciation
Taxpayers who claim the ITC for a solar PV system installation can also take advantage of accelerated depreciation. This means they’re able to deduct a larger portion in earlier years, giving them the benefit of a greater immediate reduction in federal tax liability. Some businesses can elect to claim a 50% depreciation bonus.
Solar increases business value
If you’re looking to increase the value of your building or investment, solar is a great option. Though this depends on the building’s location and its affiliated energy policy, solar definitely has the potential to increase a property’s selling price.
It makes it easy to calculate ROI
Most businesses have their energy bills and consumption data available to make the calculation. Within the first year, a typical 5 kW solar PV system can easily generate an ROI of 20%.
Depending on their county, businesses can be paid for any surplus electricity generated. A strategic energy consultant should be able to help businesses navigate the local laws and benefits.
Solar requires little maintenance
Maintenance costs for solar panels are almost none, and most solar panels come with a warranty.
Solar grants energy independence
Given the recent disaster in Texas, many businesses are opting for more reliable energy independent of the energy grid.
Solar panels are built to last
They’ll last you about 25 to 30 years, with minimal maintenance required.
The Cons of Going Solar
Solar might not be the best option for your business
If your business is small and doesn’t use a lot of energy, solar may not actually generate adequate savings for the investment to be worthwhile.
You’ll need to remodel
For a lot of businesses, going solar means adapting existing building structures. This may prove to be too costly in the long run.
Solar might not work on your roof
Not all roofs are created equal. Slate or wood shingles are more difficult to install solar panels on, and you’ll also need to ensure your roof is angled correctly to get the most out of solar panels.
Solar energy is intermittent
The geographic location of your business may not be optimal for solar panels — cloudy days, rain, and other factors can make solar energy inconsistent.
Solar is a long-term investment
Business owners who opt for solar will need to be in it for the long haul. That means if your business is fast-growing and might need to move locations, solar may not be the best option.
No matter what their energy goals, businesses will need to find a great energy consultant to help them determine whether solar is the right investment. Between calculating ROI, making structural assessments, and choosing service and installation providers, brokers should be prepared to smoothly facilitate the process for their commercial clients to help their businesses truly shine.