Commercial solar projects have gained popularity in recent years, thanks to their ability to generate clean energy while saving costs in the long run. However, like most projects, they come with hidden costs that are often overlooked. In this article, we’ll explore five hidden costs of commercial solar projects that you should be aware of.
1. Installation and Permitting Fees
One of the most significant costs associated with commercial solar projects is the installation and permitting fees. These fees can vary depending on the size of the project and the location. For example, some states require a building permit, an electrical permit, and a mechanical permit. These permits can be expensive, and the installation process can take several weeks, which can add to the overall cost of the project.
2. Maintenance Costs
Another hidden cost associated with commercial solar projects is maintenance costs. Solar panels require regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure their efficiency and longevity. Maintenance costs can include labor, equipment, and cleaning supplies, which can add up over time. Moreover, unexpected repairs or replacement of faulty components can add to the overall cost of the project.
3. System Monitoring
Commercial solar projects require monitoring to ensure they are operating at their optimum level. The monitoring system can alert the owner if there are any issues with the solar panels or the system as a whole. This can be an additional cost to the owner, as they would have to subscribe to a monitoring service to ensure their system is running smoothly. Additionally, solar panels need insurance coverage to protect against damage or theft. Insurance costs can vary depending on the size of the project and the location.
Installing solar panels on a commercial property can impact the property’s insurance policy. Businesses may need to purchase additional coverage to protect the panels from damage or theft. Insurance costs can vary depending on the size and location of the project, as well as the type of panels being installed.
5. Upfront Capital Investment
Investing in a commercial solar project can be a significant upfront capital investment. While the long-term benefits of cost savings and energy efficiency may outweigh the initial cost, it can be a significant financial burden for some companies. Moreover, the upfront investment may not be feasible for all companies, particularly small businesses.
6. Interconnection Fees
When a commercial solar project is connected to the grid, businesses may need to pay interconnection fees to the utility company. These fees can vary depending on the size of the project and the utility company’s policies. In some cases, businesses may also need to pay for upgrades to the local grid to ensure that it can handle the additional power being generated by the solar panels.
7. Landscaping and Fencing
One cost that many people may not anticipate when installing a ground-mounted solar system is the expense of landscaping the area around or underneath it. It is essential to ensure that vegetation does not grow too high around the panels because it can cause shading and reduce the solar system’s productivity. Fortunately, there are several methods for maintaining the area around a ground mount. Popular options include mowing and using herbicides, and some solar system owners have even used weed control fabric to prevent vegetation growth.
Some people have also tried using grazing animals like goats and sheep to keep the area around their solar panels clear of weeds and grasses. However, it is important to keep in mind that animals can potentially damage the solar panels and electrical wires, which could cause significant harm to your solar system. For this reason, it is generally recommended to maintain a standard 2-foot clearance below the panels, which would only allow for small livestock and poultry to move safely around the panels. If larger animals are desired, the panels can be raised to four feet to accommodate them safely.
8. Financing Costs
Financing a commercial solar project can also be a hidden cost. The financing options can vary, from leasing to purchasing. However, each option comes with its own costs. For example, leasing may have lower upfront costs, but the overall cost can be higher due to interest rates and lease fees. Conversely, purchasing may have higher upfront costs, but the overall cost may be lower due to savings on interest rates and ownership of the system.
In conclusion, commercial solar projects can be a great investment for companies looking to save costs and reduce their carbon footprint. However, it’s crucial to be aware of the hidden costs associated with these projects. Installation and permitting fees, maintenance costs, system monitoring and insurance, upfront capital investment, and financing costs are all factors that should be considered when deciding whether to invest in a commercial solar project.
Interested in commercial solar?
Commercial solar projects can be a great investment for companies looking to save costs and reduce their carbon footprint. However, it’s crucial to be aware of the hidden costs associated with these projects. Installation and permitting fees, maintenance costs, system monitoring and insurance, upfront capital investment, and financing costs are all factors that should be considered when deciding whether to invest in a commercial solar project. Looking to plan a commercial solar project? EnergyLink, an ESCO with expertise in large-scale energy projects, has a team of experts to guide you through every stage of the planning process.
We have over five years of experience in the middle-market energy space focusing on commercial and industrial renewable energy projects, and our knowledge guides us through the nuances and complexities of large projects. Click the button below or call (866) 218-0380 to speak to a member of the EnergyLink team and get started. Want to stay up to date on the latest energy industry news? Sign up for our newsletter below.