Why Solar Panels on Parking Lots are a Smart Move For Business Owners
As a business owner, you may have noticed an uptick in solar panels on parking lots in your area. Big Box retailers such as Walmart and Target are dabbling with solar as a new way to power their retail locations and have already produced notable results. Last year, Target revealed that its store in Vista, California became entirely powered by solar energy harnessed on site. The company utilized existing parking lot and roof space to host solar panels, which now supply enough power for all of the store’s electricity and parking lot EV charging stations, and could potentially generate a 10% energy surplus that can be sold back to California’s power grid. While a solar rollout of this magnitude might not be feasible for every business owner, green energy wins such as this one are worth noting when considering installing solar panels on your own commercial parking lot.
According to a 2019 report from the US Geological Survey, parking lots cover over 1,300 square miles of land in the United States. That is larger than the entire state of Rhode Island. With the global population hitting a new eight-billion milestone, our need to maximize our use of space will become even more important as we move towards a green-energy future. Turning parking lots into green energy producers is a great way to do so, especially considering the benefits they could yield with the current boom in electric vehicle sales, and the charging needs that come with it.
As the global proliferation of electric vehicles continues, parking lot solar fields will inevitably become much more common around the world. The French government has introduced measures to require businesses to install solar panels atop parking lots of 1500 square meters (16145.87 sq. feet) or more. Some researchers, such as John Pearce of Western University in Ontario are even claiming that uncovered parking lots will become non-existent in the not too distant future. While we are far from that totality, electric vehicle usage is unquestionably on the rise. This not only creates the opportunity to provide charging options for your customers, but also raises the question of where to get the power to operate said chargers. There are many benefits to installing solar panels on your business property’s parking lot, but if you already host or are thinking of installing EV charging stations, then pairing them could potentially be a very lucrative marriage.
Let’s explore some of the reasons here:
How Does Installing Solar Panels On Parking Lots Benefit a Business Financially?
Solar Investment and Production Tax Credits
While the initial investment of adding solar panels to parking lots can be high, the potential long term benefits are great. Your business might already qualify to have part of the cost of installation covered by the state or federal government. Currently there are two federal tax credits aimed at incentivizing business owners to join the green energy revolution sooner rather than later.
The first is the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) which is a tax credit on federal corporate tax filings offering up to 30% back on costs incurred during the installation and operation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems within a given year. There is also the production tax credit (PTC), which brings down the federal income tax liability of a business. The PTC is a per kilowatt-hour (kWh) tax credit for electricity generated by solar during the first 10 years after a system has been installed. It is adjusted every year to compensate for inflation.
These federal tax credits are available right now, but there is no guarantee that incentives like these will continue as green energy becomes more and more commonplace. This means it’s arguably better to install solar now to take advantage of them while they’re available, rather than later, when they might not be.
Adding Solar Panels On Parking Lots Maximizes the Value of Your Property
By installing solar panels above your parking lot, you are adding a return on an investment you’ve already made. The space is already there, so the addition of solar panels adds a new revenue stream that comes back to your business, without additional land investment. Further, solar panels can generate a surplus of electricity that can potentially power other areas of your business. If your property boasts an EV charging station, you can power it using electricity harvested from the sun.
Generating your own electricity with solar panels can also lower your energy costs significantly. According to earthday.org, “Commercial property owners typically reduce overall energy utility costs by 75% by installing solar panels.” For smaller businesses, it’s possible that you could reduce your utility costs to 100% if you’re able to generate enough electricity with your solar panels. Or you can sell your excess back to the power grid, which is another possible way to greatly offset your utility costs or generate income. If your state passed legislation with Renewable Portfolio Standards, your solar panels could potentially generate Solar Renewable Energy Credits that you could sell to other businesses to offset their not-so-green energy practices.
Added Value To Your Customers
Depending on the size of your parking lot, it might be advantageous to build a covered structure on which to construct your solar panels. Covered parking structures add even more value to your real estate as they provide customers, employees, or residents with shelter from the elements. In addition to having a lot of solar charging potential, solar structures over parking lots can provide much needed shade for shoppers in regions with a lot of sun. They may also prolong the life of business equipment traditionally housed outdoors. Solar-covered parking spaces that protect people and vehicles from wind, snow, and rain could also be a differentiator for your business. Meanwhile, multi-family housing tenants in cold-weather climates will likely appreciate not having to scrape ice and snow off their vehicles every morning.
Contact HiON Distribution To Learn More
We encourage you to consider the benefits of installing solar panels, which are a great resource for powering your on-site EV charging stations. HiON Distribution has partnered with Enel X Way to provide world-class charging station options for businesses such as yours. Our representatives are eager and available, so call us today and let’s get you set up for a fully charged future.