Are you looking to make the business case for the benefits of commercial solar power to your organization’s decision-makers? To tap the economic and energy potential of solar, commercial property owners (and long-term lessors) must objectively evaluate the pros and cons of going solar on each property, and track the projected return on investment (ROI) over time.
Alta Energy, an objective third-party solar analytics and procurement company, has a great white paper on making the case for renewable energy in business. The paper guides you through a straightforward process to evaluate whether solar is right for your organization, understand the choices involved in acquiring solar energy and make initial recommendations about how to get your solar project underway. Following these steps can help you identify the right solar project for your organization and get stakeholder buy-in.
Here’s a summary of the steps Alta Energy recommends:
- Understand your corporate goals. Is the company’s primary motivation financial, environmental, improving public and investor relations or something else? “Regardless,” asserts Alta Energy, “intelligent economic analysis is crucial.”
- Determine the criteria for a viable solar project. Per Alta, you will ideally identify “one primary financial metric, or just a few, and a manageable number of other non-financial criteria.”
- Understand the choices involved in going solar, including ownership structures, government and utility incentives, solar technologies, vendors and the procurement process (getting your project done).
- Evaluate the data. Look at your current energy usage and rates, expected future usage and rates, available capital, the suitability of your building(s) and/or land for solar, etc., to estimate the likely return on a solar investment. A reputable solar provider or a third-party energy consultant can help you do this. They’ll likely use a comprehensive, robust analytics model that incorporates geographic and meteorological data, property-specific energy usage and rate data, and structural and technology considerations. They’ll also include pricing, incentives, timing and ownership models.
- Present your recommendations to company decision-makers. Alta Energy offers a helpful sample outline to get you started.
Don’t know how to do one or more of the steps above? Don’t worry. It’s common to seek the assistance of a solar expert at this stage to help you understand the pros and cons of commercial solar as it applies to your organization and site. A great way to find a reputable adviser is to ask other companies that have recently gone solar for referrals.