Commercial Solar Panels

March 1, 2024

Let’s dive into the buzzing world of commercial solar panels in the USA. The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) statistics clarify that the solar market has been skyrocketing with 24% average annual growth for the last 10 years. We’re talking a significant chunk of the solar game here, and it’s changing the game for good. Why do you have to know this? Cause if you are reading this, that means that you are a business person and you are thinking about investing in the future cuts of the solar installation costs and – putting a hand on the heart – letting everyone around you know that you are a climate-friendly business and you are going green to look as much sustainable as possible. Yes, we talk about commercial solar image-making, too 😊

the Ivanpah solar electric generating system in the Mojave desert near the California-Nevada border.

Source The Guardian

Stats Check: Commercial Solar Power Rising!

Numbers don’t lie – commercial solar panels are on fire. Commercial solar capacity in the US rose from 1051 Mw in 2014 to 18 200 Mw in 2023. That’s almost 18 times growth for the last 13 years. Why is that important to you? Because smart people have made a smart choice towards saving money – just copy what they do.

So, what are the reasons that pushed other businesses to install commercial solar panels? Here are several reasons:

  • Declining costs: the cost of solar installation has decreased over the years due to advancing solar technologies, making solar installations more cost-efficient.
  • Government incentives: programs like the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) have encouraged businesses to invest in commercial solar power by providing tax credits for qualified solar installations.
  • Energy independence: jumping off the grid and providing a degree of energy independence.
  • Environmental sustainability: many businesses are increasingly adopting sustainable practices, including the use of commercial solar power, to meet environmental goals and enhance their corporate social responsibility
  • Fixed energy costs: solar installations allow businesses to lock in some energy costs, providing budget predictability. Fixed costs can be especially beneficial in the face of fluctuating utility rates.

We bet you were thinking about these reasons long before you clicked the link to this blog. That’s what pushed many businesses in the US to go green – and that’s how we see the statistics mentioned above about the rise of commercial solar.

Who’s Jumping on the Solar Train?

Guess what? Everyone! From the family shops to the big boys, industries like manufacturing, tech, and retail are flipping the switch to commercial solar power. It’s not just about going green but saving some serious green in the long run.

TOP-5 commercial solar installers by industries (source SEIA)

TechF&BEntertainmentHealth CareFinancial Services
The Hershey Company
Wynn Las Vegas
Six Flags Great Adventure
MGM Resorts
PR Convention Center
Walt Disney World
Kaiser Permanente
Elevance Health
Eli Lilly and Company
Fifth Third Bank
Bank of America
Swiss Re
Dow Jones

America’s corporate solar power users installed 2031 Mw in 2019 and 5162 Mw in 2021, which is almost 155% growth in just three years!

Annual installed commercial solar power capacity in the USA 2008-2022, onsite and offsite

Source SEIA

Commercial Solar Image-Making

Commercial solar installation cuts costs, provides energy independence, and lets you earn social and reputation capital. From the PR and marketing points of view, going solar can be a positive strategy for businesses. Sending everyone a message about your environmental responsibility can add big points to the business’s reputation and attract environmentally conscious customers.

How would your business look like with a green sticker?

  • Positive public perception: Consumers and stakeholders increasingly value businesses that actively contribute to environmental conservation. A solar installation can create a positive public perception, adding goodwill and support from the local community. Installing commercial solar panels can boost the loyalty of your target audience and attract new customers who consider sustainability.
  • Media coverage and social media engagement: installing commercial solar panels multiplied by your business success provides a perfect story for the media. Local newspapers and business publications will be interested in covering the business’s commitment to renewable energy, providing valuable publicity. Sharing updates about the solar installation on social media plмatforms can engage customers and followers.
  • Awards and recognitions: Your business may become eligible for industry awards and certifications related to sustainability. You can also be nominated for a local prize from the mayor of the city for your environmental efforts. These recognitions can be prominently displayed on marketing materials, websites, and social media and contribute to your business’s credibility.
  • Employee applause: Employees often take pride in working for a socially responsible and environmentally conscious employer. They will go home and spread the word among their family, friends, and neighbors about what a wonderful company they are working for. Highlighting the solar installation in internal communications can increase employee morale and satisfaction.

Businesses must integrate their solar initiatives into a broader marketing and PR strategy. Use your green commitments in your everyday communications with the target audiences. Clear communication about solar installation’s environmental and financial benefits enhances its impact on marketing efforts and strengthens the business’s brand image.

Before You Go Solar Go Find the Calculator

The first thing you have to do is calculate. Here is a rough calculation of the solar installation cost for different types of businesses.

Type of BusinessElectricity сonsumption (kWh/Year)Recommended solar system capacity (kW)Solar installation cost
Coffee Shop30,000 – 50,00020 – 30$30,000 to $45,000 before incentives
Grocery Store50,000 – 100,00040 – 80$60000 to $120000
Bakery40,000 – 70,00030 – 50$45000 to $75000 before incentives
solar panels on the new Starbucks store in the Northridge neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

Source Solar Power World

And if we talk about average or big business (this time consider industrial solar panels), the calculation will be as follows:

Approx. consumptionApproximate costSolar installation cost

(before incentives)

Average business50-200 kW$1.20 – $2.00 per watt$120,000 to $200,000 for the 100 kW system
Large business200+ kW$1.00 – $1.80 per watt$500,000 to $900,000 for 500 kW system

*These estimates include the cost of commercial solar panels, inverters, mounting structures, labor, permits, and other installation-related expenses.

**Larger commercial solar panels often benefit from economies of scale, resulting in a lower cost per watt.

Going green needs a big buck. But there are helpful solutions: loans and leases with Power Purchase Agreements to cut the upfront costs, federal commercial incentive programs, or solar collaborations. Yes, teaming up with your neighbor might be the best commercial solar solution ever created.

 the commercial solar power system on the rooftop of the grocery store

Source AllEnergySolar

Team up for Solar Success

Two heads are better than one. Businesses teaming up to invest in solar power is a smart move. It’s not only splitting commercial solar installation costs; it’s about a community commitment to a greener future.

Yes, there are several practical reasons for small businesses to cooperate in installing commercial solar panels. Collaborative efforts bring various benefits that may not be as easily achieved individually. Here are some key reasons for small businesses to consider cooperation in commercial solar power systems:

  1. Cost sharing: jointly financing the installation can reduce the financial burden of the upfront costs on individual businesses. Shared commercial solar installation costs make commercial solar panels more accessible, particularly for small businesses with limited capital.
  2. Increased energy production: Larger solar installations can generate more energy collectively, providing businesses with an opportunity to meet a higher percentage of their energy needs by installing commercial solar panels.
  3. Optimal use of available space: Businesses with limited available roof space or small yards for solar installations might need help to meet their energy needs individually. Cooperation allows using the common roof space for a bigger commercial solar system.
  4. Economies of scale: no matter how smart these words sound, pooling resources allows businesses to benefit from economies of scale. Larger commercial solar power systems may result in lower per-unit costs, making the overall project more cost-effective.
  5. Greater green image: collaborative solar projects can garner more attention and positive publicity than individual efforts – same green image but at a lower cost of solar panel installation! Plus, the bigger the commercial solar power system, the better those businesses are visible to the public and local communities (not to mention stronger relationships within the community).
  6. Shared expertise: businesses can tap into each other’s expertise and knowledge. By pooling resources, they can collectively engage consultants, installers, and other professionals to ensure the success of commercial solar systems.
  7. Facilitates regulatory compliance: in some states, there might be regulatory or financial incentives for larger industrial solar panels. And again – that makes the business solar panels more cost-effective.
  8. Long-term stability: predicted long-run costs – dreams of businesses come true! Jointly owning and managing a commercial solar power system can set a fixed long-term energy cost. Businesses also can collaborate on maintenance, upgrades, and future expansions, ensuring the ongoing success of commercial solar power installation.
Solar Landscape, a community solar developer, put installations on four warehouses in northern New Jersey.

Source The New York Times

Things to Consider

Before you install industrial solar panels on the roof, you must review check boxes related to location, energy usage, and red tape – it’s all part of the pre-solar evaluation.

  • Energy audit: sum up all the energy consumption of your business equipment and figure out what commercial solar system you need. Add some kW on top in case you will be growing your business or adding additional services with additional equipment, which will cause commercial solar power consumption to grow.
  • Site suitability: assess the site’s physical characteristics, including available roof space, sun orientation, and shading. Ensure the site has sufficient sunlight exposure throughout theSwitch to block editor day for optimal commercial solar power generation.
  • Financial analysis: calculate, calculate, and calculate again all your upfront costs of commercial solar power system installation, available incentives (such as tax credits and rebates), and the return on investment (ROI) over the system’s lifespan. Businesses should have a clear understanding of the financial consequences before investing in solar panels for business.
  • Regulatory and permitting requirements: review the local building codes, zoning regulations, and permitting requirements for commercial solar panel installations. Ensure compliance with all relevant regulations and obtain necessary permits before proceeding.
  • Maintenance and operations: understand the maintenance requirements of commercial solar panels. While commercial solar systems generally have low maintenance needs, businesses should be aware of routine inspections and any warranty or service agreements provided by the commercial solar company.
  • Technology and equipment selection: stay informed about commercial solar panel technology advancements. Choose high-quality industrial solar panels, inverters, and other equipment from reputable commercial solar companies to ensure long-term reliability and performance.
  • Contractual agreements: read the contract of the commercial solar system installation! And read again. And again. Ask questions. Ask more questions. Talk to those with experience installing commercial solar panels, and check the web for reviews and advice. Clearly define terms related to commercial solar systems ownership, maintenance responsibilities, and any potential buyout options.

Solar-powered coffee by Silver Bullet Coffee

In the grand finale, commercial solar panels in the USA are more than a trend – they’re a game-changer. Sure, the upfront cost of solar panel installation might raise an eyebrow, but big or small businesses stand to gain big time by going solar. Government incentives make it even sweeter, making it a green and financially savvy move. Those jumping on the commercial solar train now aren’t just reducing their carbon footprint; they’re securing a bright, cost-effective commercial solar power. So, to all the businesses out there, why wait? The sun’s shining – grab those solar vibes and let the savings roll in!

Andy Worford
Andy Worford

Andy is a Founder, Chief Content Officer, regular contributor, and idea generator behind Solar Power Systems. He is well-versed in various aspects of solar energy, including photovoltaic systems, solar policy trends, and green technology innovations.