Is solar energy the answer to commercial energy demands?
Behind hydropower and wind power, solar is the third most widely used source of renewable energy. Power generated from renewable sources in the UK and indeed around the globe is on the rise as more businesses and even households opt for sustainable electricity. Setting up a wind farm is not a viable option for a majority of businesses, leaving them with the next best alternative – solar energy. Here is look at the benefits and limitations of solar electricity to determine whether the investment is the best energy management solution for your business.
The most attractive benefit of solar energy is long-term reduced energy costs. Energy prices and demand are on the rise, solar installations are an ideal way to cut business-operating costs. In addition, solar panels are rated for a useful lifespan of between 25 to 40 years, within which they require very little maintenance, further reducing the cost of energy generation.
Another reason why a business could invest in solar energy is to go green. In the battle against environmental pollution caused by burning fossil fuel, using solar energy even as an energy supplement is a small but worthy contribution. Also, to keep up with the new MEES requirements, solar power is helping landlords lower their energy consumption significantly.
Solar panels are not cheap to install, a 1kW layout will cost between £1,500 and £3,000. A small office with about five workers needs roughly 2kW of electricity every day. The initial installation is bound to set you back thousands of pounds depending on the size of the business and its energy needs.
Solar panels obviously need plenty of sunlight and physical space to work. To generate 1kW of electricity, you have to lay at least four panels on an 8 sq. meters area. This is a tall order for facilities located in populated urban centres and cold climates. Solar panels have very low conversion efficiency ranging from 15% to 21% per panel, which is why you need a vast array of panels to produce a substantial amount of electricity.
Installing solar panels to power your business is a green and economic decision but is only viable if you have enough space and are willing to make the investment. Most businesses limited by space and funds use solar energy to supplement the mains electricity in a bid to lower their energy cost. A lot of research is currently going into developing solar panels that are more efficient, success in such studies could see solar panel space requirements and costs drop in the future. For now, the idea of solar energy as an alternative commercial energy solution is still a bit cloudy.
Still undecided on how to manage your business’ energy needs? Get in touch with us for tailored advice and a deeper understanding of our energy management services.