The growth of solar power across the world over the last 10 years has been immense. Countries like Australia and America have shown how much consumers care about the environment and are willing to take on new technologies.
Not only does solar leverage our most abundant natural renewable resource, the sun, it also saves households a huge amount of money as they consume their own power and reduce what they are buying from the grid.
Consumers have been the driver of these new technologies and thanks to this uptake technology has come a long way.
Unusually, it has taken business, especially small businesses a lot longer to take up solar and reap its benefits. In this article we will cover exactly how commercial solar works, how it saves you money and how small businesses can get the most out of solar and reduce their OPEX.
- How Does It Work?
Solar is quite simple. There are two main components to a solar system. Solar panels and an inverter.
When the sun is out and sunshine will hit the solar panels on your roof. When it hits the panels, it excites the cells which then produce DC power. That power is then sent down into the inverter which converts that power from DC current into AC current which is what the appliances and everything in your home needs.
Solar systems are set up so that your home or business will use the power it needs first and if there is any additional power that is generated, the surplus will be sent back to the grid.
That is how simple a solar system works.
- How Does It Save You Money?
There are two key ways that solar saves you money.
Firstly, buying electricity from the grid isn’t cheap. If you operate a business you will know the bills don’t stop coming. As we know from above, solar will generate electricity when the sun is shining. Thus, the number one way for you to save money is to consume the electricity you generate and not buy it from the grid.
For every kWh of electricity you use you will save your current cost per kWh. The average price in somewhere like Australia is around 25 – 40c/kWh and in America, around 13c/kWh in their respective currencies. It might not seem like much however, when you do the numbers of the course a quarter, it adds up very quickly and you can really maximise your savings.
The second key way you save money is by getting paid credits for feeding energy back into the grid for others to use, called feed in tariffs.
It is very rare you will be able to use all of the power you generate from your solar system. If you can, great! However, it is rare. There will always be a time when the sun is absolutely pumping and your electricity usage isn’t as high. Plus, when you factor in days you are closed or quiet days, you will have a surplus of energy.
The beauty is, this energy is sent back into the grid and for every kWh you send in you will get a credit on your next bill.
- How To Get The Most Out Of Solar?
The two best ways to maximise the savings from your solar system are to focus on maximising your self consumption and getting the right system, the first time.
Your feed in tariffs will never exceed what you’re paying for electricity. If they did, the whole market would be upside down and every electricity retailer would go broke. This in turn means, the number one way to get the most out of your solar system is to focus on using as much of your self generated energy as possible.
Small changes like running higher load machines during the day, changing your operating rhythm to move anything power consuming to run during daylight hours are just some of the ways to maximise your self consumption and maximise your savings.
The second most important thing is to ensure you get the right system the first time. If you oversize your system too much, you may be over capitalising and the excess energy won’t get you as good of a return vs self consumption. Even worse, you may install an undersized system meaning you have missed an opportunity to create enough energy to power your whole business’s energy use.
Due to the configuration of solar systems, if you get the size wrong it isn’t as simple as adding more panels, so getting it right the first time is very important.
Over sizing is better than under sizing if you are concerned. You may also be limited by site specific variables like roof space etc however don’t get too caught up in the things you can’t impact.
- A Quick Note On Batteries
With the uptake of solar, the next question that you may ask is, what about a solar battery? Battery technology has come a long way. With organisations like Tesla launching the Powerwall the affordability is getting much better. Plus, they can provide you with great additional benefits like black out protection.
The best thing with batteries is, they are nearly all capable of being added to any solar installation at any time in the future. They are relatively “plug and play” so if you don’t have the money today or can’t justify it, there is no rush.
Solar can have a great impact on your business and help you save money while having a positive impact on the environment. If you don’t have solar, find a local solar specific company, get a quote and see how solar can impact your business.