Business Investment: Solar Power

Solar City ViewSolar power is one of the leading renewable sources of energy in the United States, and more people are harnessing its benefits. We all know that solar power is an excellent way to produce emission free electricity, and many homeowners have harnessed the power of the sun to power appliances in their homes, from water heaters to all electric cars. Business owners have seen this trend of self-generated electricity continue to grow, and they want a piece of it. According to a report titled “Solar Means Business 2013,” businesses ranging from box stores to manufacturers are chasing the sun and investing in solar power.

In the past year, more than 1000 megawatts (MW) worth of solar panels have been installed on businesses all over the country. This brings the total installed capacity of these systems up to 3,380 MW, covering more than 32,800 facilities. Compared to late last year, the top 25 companies with installed solar generators increased their solar energy capacity by nearly 150%, from less than 300 MW for 730 facilities to 445 MW for 950 facilities.

Business owners all know how important it is to manage their bottom line. While most everything continues to increase in cost, solar panel costs are coming down. From 2001 to 2013, the average cost per watt generated in a solar panel system has dropped from about $10 per watt to $4 per watt. These solar power systems immediately reap the benefits of harnessing alternative powers. Since the company does not need to rely as much on fossil fuel energy production, their cost of business comes down. In turn, they can also pass these savings on to the customers who continually support the business.

As it stands now, Walmart tops the list for solar power generation with 89.43 MW of installed capacity. Rounding out the top five are Costco with 47.06 MW, Kohl’s with 44.72 MW, Apple with 40.73 MW, and IKEA with 35.08 MW. Though low on the top five, IKEA leads in the category of percentage of stores with solar systems. Eighty-nine percent of IKEA’s stores are outfitted with solar arrays.

Thanks to this expansion of solar array use, more people are seeing the benefits of accessing their own renewable, sustainable energy. Ninety-two percent of voters in the United States support the development of solar power, and it is steadily becoming more available. With an average of one in three Americans being exposed to a solar generating facility, whether an array for the electrical grid or a big box store like Walmart, solar power is much closer than many realize.


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