With fuel prices skyrocketing, now is a great time for forward thinking not-for-profit organizations and businesses with an eye on sustainability to benefit from solar installation. With federal and state incentives, businesses can slash energy bills, highlight their green credentials, and save tons of CO2 each year. According to UK-based solar specialists Southern Solar, even a small system on an average domestic or office roof will stop over 1700Kg of CO2 being released into the atmosphere, and these emissions can be stripped by as much as 14 tons of CO2 a year and beyond for a larger commercial building.
It’s not always a clear-cut choice for business owners and non-profit directors. The switch to solar might not represent good business sense. There is a negative myth that unfortunately still carries weight – that solar is not a wise investment. According to an article in Forbes, the myth no longer holds water; in fact, the opposite is true, but incorrect and incomplete information is ‘holding back the growth of solar power.’
Homeowners and businesspeople are often unaware of the benefits of solar energy. A recent nationwide poll reveals that 97% of homeowners overestimated the cost of installing solar, while only 3% of participants knew that the upfront cost of solar installation could be less than $1,000 – or even nothing at all in certain cases.
Whether your motivation is for energy independence, to protect against rising fuel costs, or to cut carbon emissions, advances in solar technology and an increase in competition and components on the market have made solar projects more financially viable. While it is true that initial generous rebates and incentives have been shaved, in tandem, the average cost of installation has dropped enormously, by a huge 75% in the last three years.
Federal and state tax incentives are still widely available, and in many cases are tailored to benefit commercial solar installation. And, the more energy intensive your core business is, the greater your returns. Investing in solar could slash fuel spending dramatically, and reduce the energy footprint of your organization.
According to the US Department of Energy, businesses can expect support from Federal tax incentives, which can offset up to 56% of the installed cost of a commercially owned PV system. Homeowners can enjoy up to 30% reduction off a residential installation. Schemes such as the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (Commercial ITC) allow businesses to take a single tax credit equivalent to 30% of the cost of installation. So even if you work from home, you can expect to gain from installing solar.
If you are a small company who shares office space with other businesses, you could think about planning for a group-owned solar array. You could benefit from Group Billing, which allows net metering from a single source, thereby greatly reducing bills, not to mention greenhouse emissions.
There are, by extension, numerous ‘soft’ benefits to be gained from installing solar power. Apart from the obvious ‘feel good’ factor that employees experience knowing they work for a company actively reducing greenhouse emissions, your brand profile will be enhanced as a consequence. Recent figures reveal that 85% of people support renewable energy. This could make concrete difference to overall profits, both short- and long-term, especially with consumer habits becoming increasingly discerning.
So while you’re busy saving the planet, you can enjoy the strategic and competitive advantages that investing in solar will give you over your competitors!
Tara Gould is a freelance writer covering green politics, sustainability, clean energy, ethical business and communication. She communicates for small, genuinely green minded businesses and third sector organisations that really mean something to her. She has had both fiction and non-fiction published and broadcast, and has had experience within a diversity of industries from film production to natural building to marketing to event managing. She is excited and fascinated by how, in an age of burgeoning global communication and ‘reputation capital’, more and more businesses must strive to marry social and environmental responsibility with making profit.