There have been several technological revolutions in the solar industry over the past two decades that have transformed a once exotic energy source into a vital, reliable and cost-effective renewable energy source. This is especially true in geographic areas that receive ample and consistent sunlight, such as Arizona. Arizona, in fact, boasts the largest solar farm in the world. But what makes solar power a truly revolutionary technology is its ubiquity.
Superior Return on Your Investment
Unlike resources such as oil, natural gas or even wind, accessing the rays of the sun is possible nearly everywhere and thanks to advances in modern technology, harvesting the energy from the sun and converting it into electricity to power your business can be done almost anywhere. Solar panels can make an immediate impact on your businesses power consumption. This makes solar energy an appealing choice for both businesses big and small looking to cut down on energy bills.
Solar power is a renewable resource with wide appeal. The popularity of solar energy continues to grow with Arizona businesses, not only because it is environmentally friendly, but also because solar panels for business use is economically smart — an energy investment that pays off for years to come.
A Brief History of Solar Power in Arizona
As a business owner, you don’t need to know how electricity is made — you just need to know that it works. However, it’s worth knowing a little bit about how solar energy works so you can dismiss the notion that solar power is new and unreliable. Indeed, solar energy is the oldest, most reliable form of energy known to humankind. So let’s learn some basics.
Solar energy is the conversion of sunlight into electricity. Generally, this is accomplished using photovoltaics or a photovoltaic array. The photovoltaic effect — first observed and documented by French physicist A.E. Becquerel in 1839 — is, as the name implies, the chemical interaction responsible for generating electricity from sunlight. Electrons are excited by the sun, and those excited electrons form electricity.
The development of these technologies in the United States jumped into high gear during the Oil Embargo of the 1970s. And, unsurprisingly, any time oil prices go up, solar energy becomes more appealing.
Modern Solar Energy Helps Your Business
There was a second jump in solar development, in the late 1990s and 2000s, as oil prices again started a long and precipitous climb upward. Arizona’s first large-scale solar field came online in 1997 in Flagstaff. In 2007, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) established the RES, or Renewable Energy Standard, which set goals for the amount of retail energy sales that would come from renewable energy sources.
It was also during the early-mid 2000s — in part driven by government policies designed to decrease dependence on non-renewable energy — that the prices of consumer solar panels began to see marked decreases. Thanks to these decreases in price, solar energy has become a cost-effective solution and potent renewable energy option for businesses that are looking to keep down volatile electric bills.
Empire Renewable Energy offers a robust warranty to help consumers — businesses, commercial and non-profit — feel at ease with the investment they’re making and the quality of the product they’re getting. For example, the solar panels themselves are warrantied for a life span of 25 years.
Advantages of Solar for Business
For Arizona businesses of all kinds, utility bills are a primary expense that can seem unshakable. “Paying to keep the lights on,” or some variation thereof, is one of those phrases you’ll hear from business owners everywhere. That’s how important energy is to most businesses — and yet, those businesses are often at the mercy of various utility companies that could, in theory, raise rates without consumer input. This makes it harder to stay in business and, both literally and figuratively, keep the lights on.
This is one of the areas where solar power can be a major boon to businesses, not only in energy costs, but also in solar panels for business tax credits you may receive. Integrating solar panels onto a rooftop or terrace space — often, spaces that customers, clients and consumers never see — can give you a seamless way to produce more of your own energy, lowering your business’s utility costs as a result.
Compared to unreliable wind installations or costly geothermal installations, solar for business is the most efficient and affordable way to produce your own electricity. Solar arrays, while not exactly mobile, are flexible and can be effectively expanded or contracted based on your needs down the road.
Going Green in the Public Eye
There is also a significant public relations boost that comes from producing your own electricity. The current green movement, for example, exploded when marketers realized that consumers wanted to be personally involved in saving the planet. Therefore, there was a definite demand for green products.
The same is true with solar energy. As a “green product,” the production of solar power gives your business positive public relations. You can advertise your new installation, rely on word of mouth or issue a small press release.
Seeing a drop in your own electricity bills will also be a well-earned bonus. The degree by which solar panel installation will lower your monthly electric bills will depend on your electricity usage and the time of that usage, as well as the size of your array. With over 60 years of experience in providing the southwest with energy, Empire can help you determine what configuration will help your business the most.
Solar Energy Facts That Matter For Your Business
It might be difficult to know if renewable solar energy is the right fit for your Arizonia business without knowing what solar can really do. To determine if solar is the right choice for your business, take a look at some quick solar energy facts.
- Pound per pound, a silicone solar panel will produce as much energy over its life as a nuclear fuel rod.
- It would only take 0.3% of the world’s landmass to produce all of the world’s needed energy.
- Manufacturing solar cells produces 90% fewer pollutants than traditional energy sources.
- Photovoltaic solar panels have a lifespan somewhere around 30 to 40 years.
- For every 1kW/hr of solar energy produced, we keep 150lbs of coal in the ground and 300lbs of carbon out of the atmosphere.
And, of course, we’re only scratching the surface here. Because, really, you want to know that solar energy can hold up against more conventional sources.
Conventional Power vs. Solar Power
There are few substances on the planet that can pack the punch of petroleum. Per pound, oil is simply the most carbon-rich, powerful energy-producer of which we’re aware. The problem is that it’s also finite.
There’s only so much oil to go around, and everyone wants it. Eventually we’re going to run low on this resource, and you can bet this type of energy will be very expensive once we do. This is the primary benefit of solar power: The sun isn’t going anywhere (at least, not for 4.5 billion years or so).
In part due to solar panel tax credits for businesses, the cost of solar is coming down. In fact, costs associated with solar energy have dropped considerably — 50% since 2008. At this rate, solar energy can actually be expected to become a less expensive option than fossil fuels.
Conventional Problems Yield to Solar Solutions
It takes immense resources, after all, to dig all of that coal out of the ground. There’s also considerable volatility in the petroleum industry, as we’ve seen over the last ten years or so. In early 2014, oil prices were near or over $100 a barrel. At the close of 2014, those prices had dropped to around $50 a barrel. But it won’t stay there. Oil prices are susceptible to changes not only in supply and demand, but also in world politics and economics. Whether you run a trucking company or a flower shop, changes in petroleum costs introduce volatility and unpredictability into your own accounting ledgers.
The sun will keep shinning, however, no matter who is President of the United States or how scarce oil is. This makes the costs and savings associated with solar energy quite stable. Solar panels installed on commercial or business structures will produce roughly the same amount of energy year over year, assuming that all required maintenance is performed. This makes solar energy reliable, especially in sunny climates such as in Arizona. That reliability translates into a more predictable monthly utility bill and a less volatile bottom line.
|Conventional Power Problems||Solar Power Solutions|
|Rising costs||Decreasing costs|
|Volatile prices||Reliable, consistently priced energy|
|Constant maintenance||Low Maintenance|
|No investment value||Earns you money from utility companies|
|Pollutant||Non-polluting — a green energy source|
|Expensive fuel required||No fuel required — the sun does all the work|
While the above list is not comprehensive, it does provide a quick illustration of the differences between conventional power and solar power—hopefully, you can start to see that solar is a great option for your business. Not only does it help stave off high energy prices, but it’s a solid investment, meaning you can count on increased return-on-investment over the years.
How to Switch Your Business to Renewable Solar Energy
Empire has a long history of helping clients and customers through energy transitions. Your first step in making the switch to solar is to contact Empire. We proudly partner with SunPower — a well-known and prestigious producer of solar panels and equipment.
The process begins with a complimentary solar assessment of your site. The site survey will provide you with:
- Recommendations on the power of the new system
- Location of the new system
- Degree tilt of the array for optimum performance
- Installation process and any additional support structures required
- Predicted utility savings over 25 years
- Projected average annual utility savings
- Projected payback period
- Total lifecycle payback period
- Net cost of the system
This list does not cover everything included in the site survey. Your specific site may require unique information before you can make your final decision.
Installing Solar Panels For Arizona Businesses
The installation process is one that must be undertaken thoughtfully. In order to optimize power output, there is a good deal of support infrastructure that often must be accommodated, such as racks and mounts that hold the panels in place. There are also converters that allow your standard electronics to run on solar power. These inverters are incredibly important as they allow the “translation” from the electricity generated by the panels to the current that is safe to use in every-day situations.
Depending on your utility company, you may be entitled to rebates or credits. For example, you can allow the utility to use excess energy produced by the solar panels. While this may require some additional infrastructure, utility companies are often willing to pay for that excess energy. This negotiation is often facilitated by ordinances already in place or by simply contacting your utility company.
Once the panels are fully installed, you will not only have access to the electricity generated during the day — during peak hours, when electricity is most expensive — but also whatever is stored in the batteries for night and cloudy conditions. This flexibility means that, even on a rare cloudy day in Arizona, you can still count on your solar array to generate savings and keep your utility bill in check.
Savings for Your Business Over Time
How much will solar power actually save your business over time? It depends, of course, on the size of the installation, the amount of energy you use, and the quantities of energy you produce. There are a lot of variables, but the most important thing to remember is that your savings will increase over time. This makes solar somewhat unique. Most business investments start to depreciate rather quickly, but with solar, the opposite is true.
Within the first ten years or so, you can completely pay off your solar panels and the rest of the savings after that go right into your pocket. Over the lifespan of your panels, you could expect to earn somewhere between $30,000 - $40,000, with some variation.
It’s not often that an investment will grant you security from energy shocks and offer savings for years to come. This makes solar energy — especially in a state with as much yearly sunlight as Arizona — particularly appealing and sensible. It’s a smart choice for your business, and the staff at Empire will work with you to ensure a smooth transition and a successful operation.
Get Solar Panels For Your Arizona Business Today
As one of the sunniest and warmest states in the union, Arizona is well positioned to take advantage of this power source. With the help of Empire, you can get your own personal solar energy grid up and running, harnessing the power of the sun and limiting your dependence on the grid.
With over 60 years of energy production experience, Empire is a certified Commercial SunPower Dealer, a well-respected manufacturer of solar panels. Together, we have decades of experience in energy production and in solar technology.
Solar panels for businesses in Arizona make a lot of sense. We’ll help you harness the sun and keep your business running. Request a free site assessment today.