Commercial and Industrial Solar Energy can be a step in the right direction in a multitude of ways for a business. Overall, it can improve operational efficiency, protect your business from rising utility rates, benefits from available government rebates and tax credits all while showing your clients that your business is committed to contributing to a more environmentally conscious tomorrow. Sure, it would be amazing if all the businesses in Vancouver and in provinces across Canada could install Solar Energy-efficient equipment, but is it a realistic possibility?
Yes, and No, there are many companies who would like to support the current green initiative; however, the practicality and installation can bring about issues that must be considered and a plan administered ahead of time, as the budget will surely come into play at some point.
What Are the Challenges Commercial and Industrial Solar Energy Face?
1. Landlord-Tenant Agreement
One major problem that seems to come up for many of our clients is related to landlord and tenant alignment. Now, with owner-occupied buildings this would obviously not be a factor; however, what if, for example, a landlord has an interest in investing in commercial industrial solar energy, but their tenant pays for and controls the electric meter.
At this point, the landlord has almost no incentive to invest in a benefit that only augments the tenant’s bill. One complicated solution may be that the landlord owns the solar energy and then sells it back to the tenant. Although, even this structure can become quite tedious and risky. On the other hand, if a tenant plans to stay at the building for a long-term lease, they may want to just own the solar panels themselves, but the landlord may not find the benefit or has concerns about structural support. There are many reasons why negotiating could become very taxing and cause more hassle than people may be able to deal with.
2. Electrical Load
When electrical load comes into the picture, again complications could arise. Most industrial and commercial buildings are capable of holding extensive solar energy installation; however, it is limited in the sizing to offset the annual electric bill on the metered account within the building. Unfortunately, many of the bigger industrial buildings often do not have electric bills that accompany heating, cooling and industrial processing, therefore, the size of potential solar installation is capped.
3. Structural Support
On the West Coast, there are many green businesses and governmental efforts to make Vancouver as reliant on self-renewing energy solutions as we are capable of. However, if a building is of older age, it may not have the structural capacity for the added weight. Also, the condition and age of a roof definitely need to be calculated and considered before a project can get the go-ahead. In some cases, you may want to speed up a planned roof replacement by a few years or invest in a solar installation sooner. Most of the time, if you work with a reputable solar installation expert, they will be able to help determine the most efficient path to take.
Due to the fact that most solar panels installed on industrial and commercial buildings are more often than not stationary structures, they can not adjust to meet the sun’s direct rays throughout the day. Additionally, the weather in many parts of B.C., especially the lower mainland and outlying cities, is very unpredictable and wet. Therefore, between cloud coverage and the amount of rain, it is safe to say that the amount of energy produced may not be enough to offset the expense paid for many, many years. Hopefully, this will be corrected in the future by innovative engineers, so businesses and landlords have more of a reason to make the leap.
As can be assumed, considering today’s economic climate, most business owners have an overwhelming number of competing uses for their capital; most companies allocate the capital to the internal needs of the core business first. Solar energy definitely offers returns that can surpass investments in core operations, however, solar is still considered to be a commodity rather than a necessity.
If you have any facing challenges with your commercial solar panel system or need to install solar panels for your company in Vancouver, please contact us.
Brad is proud to be of First Nation’s descent with ancestry traced back to the Manitoba Red River Band. With over 20 years’ experience in the construction industry, Brad offers an extensive background of project procurement in industries from agriculture, electrical distribution to commercial construction. Brad is a NABCEP certified professional with a thirst for ongoing education in the renewable field.