For many businesses today, installing rooftop solar is an easy decision. Rooftop solar can be a cost-effective and convenient method for businesses to reduce energy waste and reliance on the electric grid, while at the same time demonstrating a commitment to their employees, their community and the environment as a whole. In many situations, roofs are unused spaces with direct access to sunlight, making them seemingly the most viable location for a solar array.
Some business leaders are choosing to go with rooftop solar because it is the best choice for meeting their company’s energy needs. Others, however, are selecting rooftop solar because they didn’t know there were alternate placement options for solar panels.
In actuality, there are a number of ways that your business can leverage solar energy. Even if rooftop ends up being the best solution to meet your company’s needs, it is important to evaluate all your options before making a decision.
To make the smartest decision about what type of solar array is right for your business, consider the following five alternatives to rooftop systems.
On-site solar solutions
- Carport: With a carport solar system, the panels create a canopy over parking spaces. If your facilities have expansive, uncovered parking lots, carport solar may be a great investment. Covered portions of parking lots typically have lower maintenance costs. Likewise, you’ll also be sheltering your employees’ vehicles from the elements, an added employee benefit.
- Ground mount: Rooftop solar is reliant upon the roof where it is mounted. The roof may not be pitched at the best angle for the most efficient absorption of sunlight. There may also be obstacles on the roof that can complicate installation and decrease efficiency. If your facility has unused land, you may be able to benefit from a ground mounted array. Your panels can more easily be positioned to maximize energy production and the ground level location makes them easier to maintain than rooftop systems.
- Floating: While not commonplace, some businesses are even installing solar arrays that float in water. If your facility is short on usable roof space or land, but has easy access to a large, undisturbed body of water (a retention pond, for example), floating solar may work for your business.
Off-site solar solutions
- Remote net metering/offsite PPAs: Your business doesn’t necessarily need to build an on-site solar solution to take advantage of the benefits of the sun. Businesses can get credits for energy produced at an off-site location. These credits are then used to offset utility costs. This can be accomplished through remote net metering or offsite power purchase agreements (PPAs). Net metering laws vary from state to state, so be sure to consult an energy expert in your area.
- Community/shared solar: This option is similar to remote net metering. In the case of community solar, however, businesses actually pay for and utilize a share of the energy generated at a centrally-located solar farm. Shared solar is growing more popular but many states have yet to implement community solar programs. In order to participate, you must first find out if there are community solar projects in your local area.
To learn more about the types, and benefits, of all the solar options available for your business today, check out ConEdison Solutions.