3 Ways to Increase the ROI of a Commercial Solar Array

Michael Tobias
August 9, 2022
4 Minutes Read
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    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    -Solar panels are a proven technology for homes and businesses, and there are several ways to improve their ROI.

    -Adequate placement is very important. Solar modules should have an orientation and tilt angle that maximizes incident sunlight, and they should not be installed on shaded roof areas.

    -Your installation should also have an adequate capacity. Oversized solar arrays should be avoided, since they have higher ownership costs without offering additional savings in return.

    -You should also make sure your solar installation qualifies for incentives such as tax benefits, cash rebates and zero-interest loans. A qualified engineering firm like NY Engineers can help you claim these incentives.

    Solar power holds its place among the fastest growing electricity sources in the US, in spite of recent supply chain issues and uncertainty related to import tariffs. Going solar is a proven way to reduce emissions in homes and businesses: in the case of NYC, each kilowatt-hour from the grid comes with a footprint of around 289 g of CO2 equivalent. When grid electricity is replaced with clean onsite generation, these emissions are avoided. Solar power can also help NYC building owners comply with Local Law 97 of 2019, which imposes emission limits starting from 2024.


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    The benefits of solar power are not only environmental. Installing a photovoltaic system is also a business decision, where you assume ownership costs in exchange for greater savings. Here we will discuss 3 simple ways to increase the ROI of commercial solar power.

    1) Optimal Solar Panel Placement

    solar panel placement

    To maximize the electricity output from each solar panel, you must make sure it gets as much sunshine as possible. There are two main ways to achieve this:

    • Installing solar panels in roof areas without shadows. If this is not possible, you should identify which areas get the least shade during the day.
    • Make sure your solar panels have an orientation and tilt angle that will maximize incident sunlight. The optimal placement changes depending on your geographic location.

    In other words, you cannot simply choose any part of your roof for a photovoltaic array. You could end up installing the solar modules in a location that is constantly shaded, and this will greatly reduce their electricity output.

    Avoiding shaded roof areas is not as simple as it sounds. Since the sun’s position in the sky is always changing, shadows also move throughout the day. The ideal spot for solar panels is a roof area that gets little or no shading regardless of the hour or season.

    The ideal orientation and tilt angle for solar panels depends on multiple factors. In northern hemisphere countries like the US, solar panels are more productive when facing south. As you move farther to the north, their tilt angle must also be increased since the sun is lower in the sky. There are also special cases: buildings with a high morning consumption may achieve better results with solar panels facing east, and buildings with a high afternoon consumption may save more with a west-facing array.

    2) Don’t Oversize Your Solar Array

    solar array size

    A larger solar array is not necessarily better. Once you reach a point where monthly generation exceeds your consumption, surplus electricity is sent to the grid. Many power companies offer net metering, giving credit for kilowatt-hours exported to the grid, but only up to the point where generation is equivalent to consumption.

    Beyond this point, you end up with unused credit on your power bill. You may have the option of rolling over this credit to the next month, but very few electricity providers will give you cash payments. Even in rare cases where payments for surplus production are available, they are also subject to restrictions. In other words, you cannot simply generate electricity without limits and bill your power company.

    Your commercial solar system should be sized so you can reduce your electricity bills as much as possible. An oversized array is a wasted investment: you end up giving away electricity for free, but you must still bear the ownership costs of the PV system.

    3) Make Sure You Qualify for Solar Incentives

    solar incentive-1

    Depending on where your building is located, different types of financial incentives may be available for solar power systems. The following are some of the most common incentive types:

    • Tax exemptions and tax credits
    • Upfront cash rebates
    • Zero-interest and low-interest solar loans

    The common denominator between these incentives is reducing the ownership cost of your solar power system. This means you get more savings per dollar spent, and your solar PV system achieves a higher return on investment.

    Just keep in mind that incentive programs are not available for all solar power systems. These programs are normally managed by government agencies or electric companies, and they want to make sure the projects getting the benefits are properly designed and installed.

    To make sure you qualify for solar incentives, the best recommendation is contacting a qualified design firm like NY Engineers. We can get your project designed and approved with the local building department 50% faster than the industry average, and we can then recommend licensed and experienced contractors to carry out the installation.

    Tags renewable energy Solar Power solar energy solar panels solar incentives commercial solar

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