Navigating Solar Energy in Real Estate
Since the 1970s, when it was first explored, the solar industry has drastically evolved. The cost of producing photovoltaic (PV) cells - the main technology behind solar energy - has dropped dramatically, making it possible even for residential customers to install solar systems or purchase solar power at reasonable rates. While large-scale utilities already see the potential of solar energy, the commercial and industrial markets have been slower in adopting this trend. Nonetheless, as unit costs continue to drop, companies are finally becoming increasingly interested in solar energy.
There are many benefits to using solar energy instead of conventional energy. First and foremost, there's the environmental advantage - solar energy promises a significant reduction of pollution and greenhouse emissions. But there are also substantial financial benefits.
In some sectors, the cost of producing solar energy has dropped below the cost of power generated by natural gas or coal. In addition, to increase general use of solar power, several states offer incentives to companies and real estate owners who are willing to install solar panels. As the field is expanding, solar energy developers are in need of more installation space. They are often willing to lease a rooftop for a 20-year+ period. This provides them with a long-term energy production platform and gives property owner an opportunity to capitalize on an otherwise unutilized space. In short, roof solar systems can significantly reduce power costs and even generate income within the first year.
The Way Forward
Commercial industry leaders like Costco, IKEA and Target are installing solar panels on their department stores, headquarters and distribution points; tech giants like Amazon, Verizon and Apple are placing massive solar panel installations on the rooftops of their offices, but many property owners are still resistant. Change, especially one of this proportion, is not easy. Thankfully, there are several forward-thinking companies that are lowering the barriers to entry and improving the global outlook on sustainability. These companies are developing massive solar projects and partnerships throughout the United States, in Japan and Europe. They are working towards an even greater convergence of energy and real estate and encouraging more and more property and business owners to "go solar".