Case examine: Why residential solar installers needs to be fascinated by industrial

By Contributing Author April 13, 2022 View Profile

The U.S. industrial solar section is lastly taking off, with installations up 31% in Q3 2021 in comparison with the identical quarter in 2020. The variety of recent industrial solar tasks, present ample alternatives for installers of all sizes to seek out new avenues to develop on this booming market. LONGi and its solar installer companions capitalized on that chance by supporting Ben Dombey, artisan glassblower and proprietor of GlassblowerBen, with a rooftop solar system for his enterprise.

GlassblowerBen is a part of this rising development of solar adoption by small enterprise house owners. Founder Ben Dombey has fantastic arts levels from Rochester Institute of Technology and Tulane University, and he constructed a glassblowing studio in New Orleans to make customized glasses for drinks on the rocks that “make the little moments a little more special.”

Making Ben’s stunning 100% hand-made glasses requires heating a furnace with 300 kilos of molten glass at temperatures of two,200°F, 24 hours a day and seven days every week for a lot of the yr. This interprets into a necessity for tens of hundreds of kilowatt-hours of electrical energy each month—sufficient to make solar interesting even in a state identified for low electrical energy charges.

Like a rising variety of small companies house owners, Ben was additionally all in favour of decreasing his environmental impression. To this finish, his studio was designed with a sloped, south-facing roof to accommodate solar sooner or later. Ben’s imaginative and prescient for the corporate included solar from the beginning, however he wanted assist from an skilled installer and its module producer associate to verify the funding was sound.

To design and construct his system, he determined to work with Solar Alternatives, a number one Gulf Coast solar and energy administration firm with residential, industrial, industrial and utility prospects. Due to the set up’s dimension, Solar Alternatives chosen 72-cell LONGi modules for his or her high quality and excessive degree of energy output, which delivered the fitting mixture of value and effectivity for Ben’s wants. Solar Alternatives was capable of match 50 panels on the roof for a complete capability of 19 kW—greater than twice the capability of a typical home solar set up.

The challenge was accomplished in 2021, and it’ll save GlassblowerBen an estimated $120,000 over its lifetime. With a payback of 9 years and 500 tons of CO2 averted, it happy Ben’s need to scale back each his electrical energy prices and his carbon footprint.

As Ben summed it up, “Glassblowing is very material and energy intensive and I looked to the sun to help me reduce my impact on the environment. The cost savings don’t hurt either.”

Companies that focus solely on the residential section is probably not conscious of the altering panorama of economic solar and demand for C&I tasks like Ben’s that open up alternatives to develop into the C&I house.

The universe of potential industrial solar prospects is huge, starting from small companies putting in below 30 kW—primarily a big residential solar challenge—to extra advanced megawatt-scale tasks with ground-mounted amenities. According to Wood Mackenzie, an estimated 600,000 companies within the U.S., or roughly 70% of the nation’s industrial actual property, may very well be solarized. However, solely 3.5 p.c of those buildings have gone solar to this point. Why?

Historically, the principle purpose industrial solar has lagged residential is its tougher financial case. Like Ben, companies are extra delicate to a challenge’s backside line than householders, demanding larger anticipated charges of return and subjecting monetary projections to better price range scrutiny in comparison with different makes use of of capital. With industrial electrical energy charges which might be 15% decrease than residential charges on common, industrial builders confronted headwinds that inevitably slowed the market.

Two modifications in modules over the previous 5 years have set the stage for continued development and overturned the financial challenges related to C&I solar previously. First, module costs have continued to observe a downward trajectory, other than an uptick final yr on account of provide chain challenges. Five years in the past, to buy a high-efficiency module was an costly proposition, typically twice the price of decrease effectivity modules. But because of value declines, main producers together with LONGi have migrated to larger effectivity mono-crystalline cell know-how.

LONGi has led the best way for this know-how transition, globally producing practically one in each 5 solar modules and two in each 5 mono wafers, the inspiration of a excessive effectivity solar cell. In the case of GlassblowerBen’s system, LONGi’s Hi-MO Series modules decreased general system prices because the modules’ larger effectivity results in decrease labor and stability of system prices on a per watt peak foundation.

Secondly, the industrial solar section is now capable of reap the benefits of the identical sorts of financing choices—together with each loans and leases—that have been key to catalyzing development in residential solar. Extensions of the federal Investment Tax Credit and the continued development of state-level incentive packages are additionally enjoying an essential ongoing function in solidifying challenge economics.

Commercial installers are starting to leverage know-how past the solar module as effectively. As within the residential section, installers can now reap the benefits of software program instruments to streamline all the pieces from system modeling and gross sales to allowing and interconnecting, decreasing challenge growth time and prices considerably. Commercial solar tasks are additionally well-positioned to learn from the bifacial module know-how that’s shortly changing into normal within the utility section, providing a 5-15% enhance in manufacturing—sufficient to make a vital distinction in whether or not many tasks pencil out.

A need for elevated reliability can be main a rising variety of companies to show to solar installers for mixed solar and battery storage options. The financial attraction of including storage to solar is mostly particular to areas the place corporations face excessive prices from demand prices or time-of-use charges. However, the advantage of having onsite backup power with out worrying a few diesel generator can be seen as more and more precious with the rise of maximum climate occasions in additional components of the nation.

Finally, companies of all sizes wish to scale back their carbon footprints, whether or not it’s a multinational company searching for to please environmental, social and governance (ESG)-minded shareholders or a espresso roaster seeking to entice extra sustainability-minded prospects. While the financial case stays vital for closing offers, the steadily growing consideration given to company sustainability has made it simpler than ever to start out the dialog.

Sizing up your industrial solar alternatives

LONGi solar project image

Whether your prospects are small companies like GlassblowerBen, massive companies, or each, profitable industrial solar offers requires being conversant in a wider vary of know-how and configuration decisions than the residential sector. To maximize manufacturing whereas reducing prices, industrial tasks predominantly use monocrystalline Tier 1 modules equivalent to LONGi’s.

The complete industrial solar ecosystem is shortly transferring up the training curve, from installers to tools producers to know-how and software program service suppliers. As the business continues to mature alongside the market alternative, residential installers will discover it simpler than they assume to develop their enterprise into the industrial section.

This case examine was contributed by LONGi Solar.

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Tags: industrial and industrial, LONGi Solar

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