Key Points to Consider for a Successful Commercial Solar System Project

Commercial solar installations offer a multitude of benefits for businesses, including cost savings, a reduction in Scope 2 emissions, and improved energy security. However, navigating the process can be complex, and ensuring success requires careful consideration of several key aspects. Here are the essential elements to look for in a successful commercial solar system project.

Make it fill your bill, not your roof

A businesses’ energy use can vary by as much as what a business does to bring in revenue. A cold storage facility will have a very different energy usage profile to a retail business. 

A key thing to consider when selecting a solar system size, and a partner to deploy your solar, is what your current energy profile looks like. A good solar partner will seek your approval to gain access to your meter interval data to see when and how much energy you use. This process will help you avoid installing too much, or not enough solar.

Consider where it will go

The size and orientation of your roof significantly impacts the potential energy output of your solar system. Ideally, you want a uniform, northern-facing roof with minimal shading throughout the day. East- and west-facing roofs can still be viable, and in some cases, may be preferred due to the time of day you need your solar system to produce energy. East will perform better in the morning, and West in the afternoons.

Additionally, consider the pitch of your roof, potential dust and debris buildup, and whether it can handle new wind loads if you’re considering tilt frames. A quality solar business will explain why they recommend a specific portion of your property, conduct a structural assessment, and ensure a safe and solid installation.

Qualified installers and contractors

Choosing the right partner is crucial for a successful project. Look for established companies, experienced in commercial solar installations, with a proven track record and a history of customer satisfaction. 

Some partners may offer a performance guarantee on their systems. Whilst these are often subject to maintenance contracts and certain commercial discussions, a partner that doesn’t offer any guarantees should be considered carefully. Why can’t they guarantee your solar system’s output or the quality of installation?

Safety should always be a strong consideration. Ask about a safety management plan – do they have external safety certification? What is their internal or external audit process? Safety is both the installers and your own businesses responsibility and should be a key consideration to avoid personal injury or property damage.

Understand your certificate rebates

In Australia, there are significant changes to what certificate rebates are available for solar systems, depending on where and how large your solar system is. 

Understanding when to use Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs), Large-scale Generation Certificates (LGCs) or Victorian Energy Efficiency Certificates (VEECs) is a key part to ensuring your commercial solar system is cost-effective and supports your financial, and Environmental, Social and corporate Governance (ESG) reporting targets.

Ensure you understand how your ESG reporting framework references solar and the use of these certificates. Choose a solar partner that understands how to choose, create and model these various certificates into your ESG and revenue models.

Monitoring & maintenance

Monitoring your system’s performance is vital for maximising energy production and identifying any potential issues as early as possible. Look for a system that will let you and the company who installed it know if anything is not working as expected.

Similarly, look for a partner that will support you and your solar system into the future. Just like a vehicle, a solar system will perform better for longer if maintained and checked regularly.

Sustainable financing options

Financing can significantly impact the feasibility of a solar project. Explore various options, including capital outlay, green loans, power purchase agreements (PPAs), Energy Upgrade Agreements, and asset finance. A reputable solar company can explain and demonstrate the strengths and benefits of each option.

Additional Considerations

Local Permits: Familiarise yourself with local building codes and permit requirements for solar installations and ensure the chosen partner manages the permit process efficiently.

Future Energy Usage: Consider what your current energy usage looks like and compare it to what it may look like. Is your site likely to expand? Are you likely to reduce your energy usage via Energy Efficiency Measures (EEMs) such as LED lighting, water heating or HVAC upgrades? Think ahead when sizing your solar and future proof your business. 

Environmental Impact: Choose a solar company committed to sustainable practices and responsible waste management throughout the project lifecycle. Keep in mind your solar partner and deployment will become a Scope 3 emission under many carbon accounting methods. Choosing a low emission or carbon neutral solar partner will both lessen your own emissions and show your clients you are using your buying power for social benefit.

Commercial Solar Partner Consideration Checklist.

We have put together an easy to follow checklist to use when considering a solar partner to undertake a project for your business.

This is free to download here.

By carefully evaluating these key points, you can increase your chances of achieving a successful commercial solar system project that delivers significant financial and environmental benefits for your business. Remember, investing in solar is a long-term commitment, so it’s crucial to make informed decisions and choose a reliable partner to guide you every step of the way. 

At Ecovantage, we are here to support all of our clients in decarbonising efficiently, effectively and reliably. We would like the opportunity to support you and your business along the various stages of your solar journey.

Aaron Jenkins | General Manager, Energy & Carbon Services
Aaron is a specialist in end-to-end solutions for medium to large energy users. This includes energy audits, technology implementation, carbon offsets and energy certificates

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