Put simply, energy security has never been more important. With rising pressures from a range of external factors – including geopolitical conflicts and the ever-growing climate crisis – the race is on for businesses to find effective ways to protect their energy supplies, as a key element of business continuity.
Commercial solar panels comprise one obvious solution, especially since the cost of solar panels has dropped by almost 90% over the last 10 years. They provide a reliable, cost effective way to boost your company’s energy security – and here are five ways that your business can feel the benefits.
Cost stability and insulation from economic shocks
One of the key advantages of boosting your energy security through solar panels is that they provide a reliable means of generating your own on-site power, making you less reliant on the National Grid, and the global energy market in general – much of which is still significantly dependent on fossil fuels.
It’s worth noting that the last few years have brought some particularly seismic economic shocks which have been felt across the globe, including the Covid-19 pandemic, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As well as the devastating human costs to these events, they’ve also sent shockwaves through the world’s economies, leading to massive spikes in energy prices – the effects of which are still being keenly felt by countless businesses today. That’s where commercial solar panels can help. By making you less dependent on national and international energy markets, they can insulate you from economic shocks associated with geopolitical factors or supply chain issues, and help you stabilise your costs in the long term – making it much easier to protect your business continuity.
Protection from blackouts and brownouts
We’ve spoken before about the impacts of blackouts and brownouts on your business. To explain the difference quickly in a nutshell, a blackout is the result of a complete mains power supply failure – in other words, it is (by definition) an unexpected outage. That generally results in devices being improperly and abruptly shut off, which can be highly damaging for certain pieces of machinery or equipment, especially if they’re mid-operation at the time.
A brownout on the other hand is a term used to describe what happens when the voltage drops below the usual mains supply level. That doesn’t necessarily mean a complete outage like a blackout, and depending on the nature and duration of a brownout, it may even leave a majority of devices still functioning. In some cases, a brownout may even be intentionally implemented by the National Grid, to lessen the strain on the grid itself, to prevent the less palatable possibility of a complete blackout.
The threats to your business from a blackout are obvious – a sudden and abrupt shut-off in power can pose a major risk of damage to your assets, especially heavy-duty machinery. Even if the machines themselves escape damage, there’s still the downtime costs to your business as you wait for power to come back online. Look no further than search giant Google for an easy example of this – the corporation briefly lost power in 2013, and lost an estimated £100,000 a minute until it was back online. It was down for five minutes, which meant the outage was projected to have cost the company almost half a million pounds.
A brownout poses similar issues. It’s true that the risk of damage might not be quite as potent with a reduction in power, as opposed to a complete outage), and in many cases, devices may still be operating on a baseline level of power. However, the reduction can cause some of them to malfunction, which can cause further complications later down the line.
In both cases, you can mitigate the risks by having a redundancy through on-site power generation, in the form of solar panels. Even if there is an outage, you can plug the gap with stored energy from your solar panels – and depending on your circumstances, you may even be able to power your business entirely with stored solar energy for a certain amount of time. In any case, that can help save you money, save you time, and give you more peace of mind.
General cost savings and Return on Investment (ROI)
One of the key benefits of solar power systems is that they generate electricity at a fixed cost, offering a hedge against rising utility prices. Over time, as those energy savings accumulate, you’ll find that your commercial solar panel installation can end up paying for itself in a relatively short amount of time, allowing you to enjoy all the cost savings that steady, reliably low energy prices can give you.
Depending on your unique energy profile, and your rates of consumption as an organisation, your savings may run well into the thousands. That means it’s not just energy security that you can enjoy with commercial solar panels, but a bit of added financial security as well – always welcome in today’s increasingly uncertain economic climate!
Regulatory compliance and future-proofing
With each successive Conference of the Parties (COP) climate meeting every year, it’s becoming clear that governments across the globe are steadily implementing more and more stringent regulations in a bid to reduce carbon emissions, and promote the adoption of more renewable sources of energy – including solar panels. Long-term global energy security is the goal, and that can only be realistically achieved with renewables. That makes it a key priority for businesses across the globe in the years ahead. In 2023, for the first time, the gathered nations universally agreed the need to transition away from fossil fuels.
What’s more, the long-term viability of renewables has been proven time and again, and indeed, a joint study by University of Exeter and University College London found that solar energy has now reached a stage where it will unquestionably become the world’s main source of energy by 2050.
Wide-ranging changes to the world’s energy supplies are already on the way, and becoming an early adopter can help you stay ahead of those regulations, so you can avoid getting caught off-guard by mandated changes. In other words, you get to transform your energy supply on your own terms, on your own schedule, rather than having to rush to conform to a schedule that’s been imposed upon you (which is often far more costly and stressful).
Environmental sustainability and CSR / ESG
Energy security isn’t just important for your own internal business goals – crucially, it’s also something that your suppliers, investors and customers will be on the lookout for too.
In recent years, the rise of Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental, Social and Governance metrics demonstrates that more and more people are leaning towards companies that “walk the walk” when it comes to ethical commitments. Making responsible steps towards securing a sustainable, secure energy supply is one of the measures which can put you head and shoulders above your competitors – and it may well end up becoming the deciding factor in who your customers choose to buy from.
That makes it one of the many additional indirect benefits of ensuring your energy security – not only does it give you direct practical advantages in terms of your cost savings and your peace of mind, but it could even help you win more business along the way.
Those are just five of the most crucial ways that you can protect your business by boosting your energy security through solar panels – and that’s exactly where we can help here at Low Carbon Energy. We have over 60 years of combined experience in commercial solar, having helped SMEs and large corporations across a wide variety of sectors transform their business’ energy supply.
Each of our installations is bespoke, tailoring your solution on your specific energy profile, helping us to maximise carbon reductions and saving you thousands in energy bills. Feel free to look at our case studies for just a few examples of businesses which have reaped huge rewards from solar, such as Boeing and Irish Water. To find out how we can help you, feel free to give us a call today on 01282 421 489!