Solar is a renewable energy technology that can be easily integrated into existing infrastructure. A photovoltaic solar system, which silently produces clean energy without any moving parts, is ideal for on-site applications at commercial facilities. Depending on the quantity and kind of available space, there are different types of installations that work best. Most on-site commercial solar installations fit into three broad categories: roof-mounted, ground-mounted and parking canopy systems. Below, we describe the different categories and the advantages of each.
Rooftop solar is the most common way commercial businesses go solar on-site. Typically, facilities with flat roofs that exceed 50,000 square feet are the strongest candidates for hosting a solar system. Sufficient available roof space will ensure that the system can be sized to capture the available commercial-scale solar incentives and produce a significant amount of clean energy—enough to offset a large portion, if not all, of the facility’s annual usage. Rooftop systems have a lightweight design, and panels average 3 to 4 pounds per square foot. These systems are compatible with roof warranties and building insurance and are storm and wind rated. Additionally, there are ballasted, or weighted, options to secure the panels to the roof for customers who want to avoid any roof attachments.
Oftentimes, commercial businesses with large office or retail spaces, distribution and data centers or warehouses are ideal candidates for rooftop solar. Companies can capitalize on this otherwise unused space to lower their energy costs and even turn a profit. Additionally, some companies prefer that the solar systems remain out of their customers’ view. Hosting a solar system on the roof limits unauthorized visitors, protects the panels from any threat of vandalism and typically provides the most cost-effective solar solution for businesses. From the ground-level, most visitors would not even realize that a solar system is present and operating on-site.
The next most common type of solar installation is a ground-mounted solar system. They are excellent for companies that have open and unused land. These type of installations have the advantage of being more easily accessible for maintenance and adjusting the position or angle of the panels throughout the year for optimal energy production.
A ground-mounted solar installation can also help support the economy of the local community in a less obvious way—through offering grazing land for local farmers. Livestock, such as sheep, that are docile and relatively agile animals can take the place of motorized lawn mowers to trim the grass around the system. Grass can grow very tall during the spring and summer months, blocking the panel surface and casting shade that can inhibit system production. While the grazing animals enjoy a natural grass diet, they also eliminate the need for fossil-fuel burning mowers to maintain the grounds.
Ground-mounted systems can also make use of land that has been generally deemed unusable, such as brownfields. Contaminated land, capped landfills and former industrial sites make great locations for solar systems because the land is otherwise uninhabitable and uncultivable. Brownfield solar installations can be very lucrative for companies who own such areas. Federal, state and local governments offer specific incentives to improve the economics of a solar project.
The third type of installation is a solar parking canopy system. These are overhead canopies that typically cover parking lots or garages. Rather than taking up space, they create their own. Canopies are similar to ground-mounted systems, but are raised much higher off the ground. They can provide much needed shade for cars, while producing energy for the company’s facility. Oftentimes, commercial businesses prefer canopies because they do not involve direct construction to the main building. This kind of installation is also beneficial when a company wants to have a highly visible sustainability initiative to show their visiting stakeholders and customers.
On-site solar energy has become an ideal way for businesses to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and advance their sustainability initiatives. However, if a company cannot find the right on-site installation type, there are also off-site options.
In conclusion, there are many ways, on-site or otherwise, that commercial business can go solar. It is all about finding the right fit. PowerFlex has been providing customized solar solutions to corporate clients for over a decade, and we have extensive experience working with a wide variety of companies, from smaller family-owned businesses to larger global corporations across the U.S. If you are interested in going solar, we can provide a complimentary technical and financial analysis based on your company’s facility, available space and energy usage. At PowerFlex, we are dedicated to finding the perfect solar solution for every client. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-225-0270.Contact Us Today!