Is Solar in Your Business Plan?

Most people know that solar energy is environmentally attractive – and that photovoltaic (PV) solar energy systems have made great technical strides over the past 10 years. Costs have come down and the efficiency of solar panels is going up--enough so that PV energy costs are now competitive with the costs of energy supplied from the utility power grid.

The Wasatch Front is one of the best locations in the world for solar energy production, not only because of the amount of sunshine, but also because of our relatively cool temperatures (that boost efficiency), our elevation (so there is less air mass to absorb its energy) and Rocky Mountain Power's net metering structure.

Businesses, including agriculture and other high energy demand manufacturering facilities and warehouses, may find solar power especially attractive for these additional reasons:

  • PV's electrical output matches well with patterns of energy use in commercial buildings, promoting effective management of electricity demand and producing energy when electricity is most expensive during the middle of the day.
  • PV applications are now being integrated directly into building roofs, envelopes, and surrounding spaces, and these technologies are evolving rapidly.
  • PV systems provide a visible symbol of a company's commitment to the environmental and economic health of their community and the world.
  • Business-owned PV systems convey tax advantages, such as accelerated depreciation and a federal income tax credit.
  • Solar systems can be configured with backup capabilities, to prevent blackouts from interrupting operations.

   

Replacement Value and BIPV

Building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV)--those that are integrated into the building's structure--offer a range of dynamic opportunities for designing energy systems for buildings.   And while it's clear that BIPV will be the trend of the future, the technologies are being used right now.

A PV system may do double duty as a window or curtain wall and an energy source. PV atrium systems, with their semi-transparent glazing, are not only beautiful, they are also perhaps the highest-value application for BIPV. These existing technologies can show payback periods of fewer than 10 years. Photovoltaic capabilities are now built into roofing shingles and tiles that are both functional and easy to install.   PV awnings and carports capture the sun's energy while providing shade from its heat. PV greenhouse windows power businesses while sheltering plants. All this adds up to one solid fact: Solar Energy and commercial buildings are a natural match.

Utah Applied Solar Energy, LLC  2015