In Part One of Leading Off, we focus on Distributed Generation with On-Site Solar. If you’re reading this, you’re likely aware “solar” is a buzz word (and, occasionally, a lightning rod) in our society. Let’s make sure your organization’s initial consideration of a solar asset on your property begins on solid ground with the following overview of this solution.

  • First, a clarification on terminology: if you haven’t already, you’ll soon run into the word Photovoltaics (or “PV”). PV is defined as: pertaining to direct conversion of photons of sunlight into electricity, and it is the technical term for solar-electricity, most often referred to as “solar”.
  • PV modules (solar panels) undergo significant durability testing for wind, hail, and snow. Major system components carry extensive warranties, and property insurance further addresses common concerns of first-time implementers of the technology.
  • Often adopters of solar must alter lens through which they traditionally view the purchase of equipment or capital improvement projects. Unlike chillers, HVAC, lighting, new roofs, etc., with proper design, installation, and maintenance, a PV system is a thirty (30) year asset that pays for itself 2-4 times over its life.
  • Distributed solar-electric systems are sized based on available space, available budget, desired energy offset, or parameters of available incentives (tax credits, rebate programs, etc.). Often, a large electricity consumer will make a selection based on some combination of the aforementioned.
  • In conjunction with the previous factors, electrical considerations such as existing electrical infrastructure (e.g. switchgear or transformers) and contract demand (kW) with the utility help pinpoint the most appropriate and desirable solution.
  • Structurally-speaking, the mounting method – the manner in which solar panels are supported, aligned, and secured (roof-mount, ground-mount, canopy/carport, etc.) for the life of the system – has a significant impact on the cost of a project. Even at the maximum scale at which a business is often allowed to offset retail electric purchases (e.g. 1MWac within Duke Energy territory in North Carolina), roof-mounted “racking” is typically the most cost-effective manner, followed by ground-mounts, and then by solar canopies or carports.

Thank you for your interest in distributed generation with on-site solar! We hope you found this to be helpful and that you’ll spend a few minutes reviewing other entries and insights on our Blog page. To dig-in further on this topic and discuss specifics for your organization, please Contact Us.