Renewable energy has seen some fantastic advances over the years, and collectively they’re already beginning to fast overtake fossil fuels as a means of energy production. Solar power is amongst the most prolific forms of renewable energy, and showcases some brilliant examples of the benefits of renewables as a whole. While solar energy has a fantastic range of benefits for society and humanity in general – it’s ideal for remote communities in sparse locations, for example – it also has a number of specific benefits for commercial businesses and homeowners in the UK. Here, we’ve summed up the main ones!
1. A truly renewable energy source
We’ll start with the most obvious one first; solar energy is one of the world’s few truly renewable energy sources. For as long as we’re all still here, we can count on the sun to be shining – scientists estimate it’s got at least 5 billion years left of energy in it. As well as being helpful in the macro sense, it’s also useful to each of our individual customers here at Low Carbon Energy – it means that there are fewer site-specific demands to cater to. As long as your premises see sunlight at least a few hours of the day (and almost all of them do), solar panels are always going to be a viable source of energy.
So, you might be asking, how efficient are solar panels? Well, as things stand most solar panels are able to convert between 15% and 20% of their collected sunlight into electricity. (In case that doesn’t sound like much, it’s worth noting that even this ratio is still useful enough to help many businesses save thousands off their energy bill each year.)
However, the technology is advancing all the time. Just recently, scientists in the Netherlands succeeded in pioneering a technology which could boost the efficiency of the average solar panel all the way up to 30%. Again, it sounds like a small jump, but it could mean even bigger savings for businesses.
2. Significantly reduces energy bills
Generating your own electricity right there on-site means that you’re relying less on the National Grid and traditional utility suppliers to power your home or business. In a nutshell, the more energy you produce, the more money you’ll save. Now, exactly how much will obviously be dependent on the size of the system, and what your normal usage levels are. But theoretically, it’s not too difficult to save hundreds or even thousands of pounds over the course of a year.
Until March 31st 2019, you could even sell your excess electricity back into the National Grid, thanks to the Feed In Tariff. Unfortunately, at the time of writing this scheme has now ended, but there’s nothing to say that the government won’t introduce future incentives for solar energy in future.
3. Cheap and easy to install (and getting cheaper all the time)
The cost of solar panels is obviously a major concern for many of our customers here at Low Carbon, and while prices can vary significantly between customers, the ease of installation (the panels have no moving parts, after all) means that we’re able to maintain consistently fantastic prices for our customers. Solar panels are no longer the luxury experimental item they once were, and the technology is advancing all the time – if you’ll pardon the pun, the future is looking bright!
As we’ve noted in our post about what affects the cost of solar panels, solar PV has become up to 70% cheaper than it was in 2010, making it a more valuable opportunity for businesses than ever!
4. Low maintenance costs
Another attractive aspect of solar panels is the low maintenance costs involved in keeping them. Most owners manage just fine by cleaning them a couple of times a year at most. Again, since they have no moving parts, there is no wear and tear involved. So, once you’ve covered the initial cost, you can expect very little spending on maintenance and ongoing repair work, leaving you to enjoy the savings!
5. Reduce your impact on the environment
Green initiatives are higher on our global agenda than ever, and the ability of solar panels to produce energy without greenhouse gases or water pollution makes it a sure winner in the eyes of many. What’s more, solar panels are completely silent, so they’re highly practical for even the densest of urban areas. If you’re a business considering commercial solar panels, you can even use them as a keen demonstration of your Corporate Social Responsibility, which may make all the difference when attracting new customers.
6. Improves your energy security and independence
Another benefit of being less reliant on the National Grid is that your business is less vulnerable to power-cuts and other outages. In these scenarios, the loss of productivity is one of the biggest threats, as it can severely limit your ability to complete work for your clients and customers, which can quickly end up costing you money (as well as incurring various other associated costs). However, generating and storing energy on-site means that you can potentially give yourself a supply to fall back on if the main power fails, which limits this loss of productivity, preserving your flow of revenue.
7. The electricity you generate is (by definition) more valuable
Studies have shown that our energy requirements are generally highest between 11am and 4pm, and then peak briefly again in the evening. It doesn’t take any special scientific knowledge to work out why; those are the hours when the vast majority of us are almost guaranteed to be in work, and then spending a bit of leisure time in the evening. Naturally, the price of electricity peaks at these hours, so this is when you’ll be paying the most for energy. Happily though, this 11am-4pm timeframe is also when solar energy reaches its maximum production capacity – which means the electricity you generate is by definition more valuable, saving you even more on energy costs.
8. It helps your green credentials and CSR and ESG
As well as being actively better for the environment on its own merits, solar panels can serve as a valuable and highly visible demonstration of your business’ commitment to environmental causes. In today’s modern age, especially with the growing climate crisis, customers are increasingly making greener choices in terms of which businesses they choose, and voting with their wallets. For that reason alone, solar panels are great for boosting your Corporate Social Responsibility, which can make all the difference to attracting increasingly selective customers and investors.
As well as CSR, another criteria has also become steadily more important in recent years, and that’s ESG, or Environmental, Social, and Governance. We’ve written a detailed article on ESG already, but the very short version is that it’s a criteria used by investors to make key decisions about which businesses they want to associate with.
It differs from CSR in that the former is often self-regulated and the definition of good CSR can vary widely between different companies. It also focuses not just on sustainability, but also on social programmes such as community outreach, and matters related to running a business ethically.
ESG, on the other hand, is more objective and consistent, providing a useful yardstick for investors to measure a company’s overall sustainability. Many of our own customers have also found solar panels instrumental in helping them achieve their own Net Zero goals – another concept that’s been becoming increasingly important to the national consciousness over the past few years.
9. They are silent and space-saving
These are perhaps secondary concerns compared to the other benefits on this list, but still undeniably helpful. If your business is expanding physically, such as with new premises or buildings on-site, the ability of solar panels to simply be installed on the roof of an existing building can save you valuable space elsewhere, which can spare you from logistical headaches. Plus, if your business is based in a residential area, the silence of solar panels can help improve your reputation with the local community, rather than noisier technologies such as mobile generators.
10. Solar energy helps the wider economy
Of course, there are the benefits on a wider scale. Looking nationally and globally, money invested in solar power creates two to three times more jobs than money invested in coal or gas, providing significant benefits to the economy. It’s also a reliable source – after all, the sun is pretty much impossible to privatise! While this is less of a direct benefit to your individual business, it’s certainly an excellent feel-good factor, and as we’ve mentioned it can be brilliant for increasing the visible CSR and ESG credibility of your business.
What’s more, solar’s importance to the wider economy has arguably never been more significant. The government recently commissioned a report that found solar power will be not just beneficial, but arguably essential to the future of the UK’s wider economy. (Although unfortunately, that same report made for rather uncomfortable reading for ministers!)
We’ve published another post about the great strides that the planet is making towards renewable energy, and the technology is advancing all the time. Why not see what solar panels can do for commercial organisations by browsing our product range, or have a look at our consultancy services to find out how we can help your business to become even more efficient?
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