How Solar Power Systems Can Benefit Our Businesses: Your Options
Sadly, one of the news stories that you can’t escape from is the growing climate change crisis. As a result, many businesses and homeowners are taking significant steps towards sustainability and achieving ‘net zero’ status. Businesses, in particular, are adapting to climate change by looking at renewable energy sources, such as solar power.
If that's something you're interested in, this blog will help answer any questions about the benefits of solar power for your business.
How Does Solar Power Work?
Solar power is the conversion of renewable energy from sunlight into electricity.
Many different technologies are available now to businesses to help harness that power.
Two of the most popular are:
Solar Thermal Energy
Solar Photovoltaics (PV) Energy
We'll look at each of these in turn, analysing their benefits to see which could better suit your business.
Solar Thermal Energy
Solar Thermal Energy (STE) is used to heat water, which can be used for commercial and residential buildings.
Panels can be installed on rooftops - or other surfaces open to the elements - to absorb the sunlight.
These panels house tube-shaped collectors which are filled with water. As the liquid heats up, it is pumped into a specially designed hot water cylinder, where it is stored until you need it.
Benefits of Solar Thermal Energy for Businesses
Solar thermal energy technology has a wide range of benefits for businesses.
It does not take up as much space on roofs as Solar PV Energy panels (more on that later) and can therefore keep offices looking more ‘aesthetically pleasing’.
Thermal energy is also 70% more efficient at collecting heat from the sun's rays than solar PV. It is also a lot less complex to run and maintain.
Therefore, it is a more affordable form of solar power in terms of economics.
Disadvantages of Solar Thermal Energy
While there are many advantages to this technology, there are some disadvantages, particularly for businesses based in the UK.
For example, it is less effective in the winter months when the sunlight is often weaker and the weather is cloudier.
The panels also have a shorter life expectancy than Solar PV. Many other competitors can expect to outlast solar thermal technology by around ten years.
A Good Solution For Businesses?
Thermal solar technology is a superior energy solution compared to alternative forms of green energy like tidal and biomass energy.
However, its exclusive function for water heating can be a downfall when you need solutions for the entire building's power.
And – as alluded to above – the technology is perhaps best suited for warmer climates because the ability of the panels to absorb the sun's rays in winter months diminishes. Relying on sunlight during the summer to heat your water can be risky, particularly with the UK’s more temperate weather.
Solar PV Energy
Solar PV is a much newer technology than solar thermal technology.
To the untrained eye, they look similar to Solar Thermal panels. They are also placed on roofs, but – as we will see – there are some significant differences between the two technologies.
There are three common types of PV panels that are available:
Monocrystalline - Contain solar cells made from a single silicon crystal, making them much purer.
Polycrystalline - Contains several fragments of silicon that have been melted together, making them around 2-4% less efficient.
Thin-film solar cells - Made from layers of a PV material and either glass, plastic or metal.
Monocrystalline is the most efficient of these options but is also the most expensive. Alternatively, polycrystalline is a little less efficient but comes at a slightly cheaper price range. Lastly, thin-film solar cells are the most affordable option but are also the most flexible.
Deciding which is best for your businesses will depend mostly on your price range.
How Do These Work?
Solar PV energy works by absorbing sunlight and then converting it into electricity using silicon-based technology.
Advantages of Solar PV Panels
Solar PV Panels have a range of advantages for businesses. For example, they provide you with clean and green energy that can be the best first step towards carbon-neutral offices. They can also do this for a long time of up to 50 years which will see you benefiting financially in the long run.
Furthermore, they are considerably efficient during the summer months yet won't freeze during the winter. Even when there's the slightest bit of brightness during the day - the panels will absorb the rays and allow you to make use of whatever sunshine you have.
In addition, they can cover the energy requirements of appliances that have a high-energy consumption. This includes the refrigerator, washing machine, dryer and much more.
Lastly, the government scheme of a feed-in tariff means that solar PV will take less time to pay for itself than other green energy sources.
This programme is designed to promote renewable and low-carbon technology - giving you an incentive to implement it in your business. You will benefit from quarterly payments for the electricity your installation has generated. This is determined by readings you submit to your energy supplier.
Disadvantages of Solar PV
Whilst solar PV is a remarkable piece of technology in its longevity and efficiency, it does have some drawbacks for those on a budget.
The initial costs are often quite expensive for some businesses.
However, the return you will get can see significant benefits for your business. So it is undoubtedly worth the investment if you can.
And it is worth noting that the panels take up a lot more room than the Thermal Energy equivalent. So available space is something business owners would need to consider.
A Good Solution For Businesses?
Solar PV can be a great sustainable solution for your energy needs.
It allows you to benefit from a phenomenal form of green energy that is hard to beat. Additionally, solar PV will also allow you to earn money from the Feed-in Tariff.
Overall Benefits of Solar Power Systems for Businesses
Now that we have explained both forms of solar power systems let's explore how the overall concept of solar energy can benefit businesses.
A Truly Renewable Source of Energy
Firstly, one benefit for businesses is that solar power is one of the only truly renewable energy sources.
In much the same way that wind turbines rely on gusts, the sun’s presence is paramount for this technology. Fortunately, scientists currently predict that we have another five billion years of energy left to use from it.
As long as your business gets a few hours of sunlight a day, you can benefit from this energy source.
A Reduction In Energy Bills
You rely less on the national grid and traditional utility suppliers to power your business by generating your own energy on-site.
The more energy you produce, the more you will save when using these energy sources.
How much you save will depend on the size of your system and what your typical usage levels are.
That being said, these appliances can easily save you hundreds or even thousands of pounds each year.
Low Maintenance Costs
An additional aspect of solar energy that makes them ideal for businesses is the low maintenance costs involved in keeping them.
Generally, you will get away with cleaning them a couple of times a year. As they do not have any moving parts, you do not need to worry about wear and tear, providing a need for additional maintenance.
So once the initial cost has been paid, you can expect minimal spending needed for maintenance and ongoing repair work.
Reducing Your Environmental Impact
Green initiatives are becoming increasingly more critical within our global agenda.
Customers and consumers expect many businesses to be as responsible as they can when it comes to the environment.
As solar panels produce energy without greenhouse gases or water pollution, they are a viable solution in the world's quest to become more sustainable.
Additionally, solar panels do not produce noise pollution - making them perfect for dense urban areas.
A somewhat smaller benefit of solar power sources is that they are both silent and space-efficient.
For businesses that are expanding physically, such as with new premises or on-site buildings, the fact that these can be installed simply on the roof of existing buildings can save a lot of needed space elsewhere.
This means that you won't need to find home turbines or large water heaters storage.
Final Thoughts On Solar Power For Businesses
Many businesses are starting to see why investing in renewable energy is so important.
It shows that your brand cares about sustainability and the planet's future, which helps your brand reputation and the global environment.
We have looked at the two main types of panels. While both are relatively cheap to install, space-efficient (compared to traditional energy sources) and silent, they have differences that businesses would need to consider.
More About Javelin Controls
Javelin Controls Limited was originally formed 14 years ago and has subsequently developed to the stage where, in addition to supporting Hampshire and West Sussex County Councils, both directly and indirectly, in all things controls related, it has also successfully completed a £1.3M contract for Hampshire County Council providing their schools portfolio with Boiler Energy Efficiency controls packages.
Get in touch with the Javelin Controls team to transform your work environment with a high-quality building management system. We'll be more than happy to discuss your control and HVAC system requirements and find a customised solution to suit your business needs.