POWER Interview: How Solar Energy Can Solve the C&I Power Puzzle - POWER Magazine

POWER Interview: How Solar Energy Can Solve the C&I Power Puzzle – POWER Magazine

Commercial and industrial (C&I) companies depend on their energy supplies. Many facilities, such as hospitals, federal institutions and military bases – those considered mission critical – have been at the forefront of finding solutions to keep the lights on.

In today’s world, the need for reliable and flexible power is critical to a wide range of industries. Uninterruptible power is essential, not only for operations but also for safety. A power outage can be an economic disaster for businesses that don’t have a power system that can guarantee the lights won’t go out.

This is why more and more C&I companies are installing their own power generation systems, to keep their business up and running. Many are adopting renewable energy solutions as part of their sustainability efforts, recognizing the importance of removing carbon as they design their on-site generation, or when they purchase energy from others – whether it’s solar, wind, or another distributed energy source.

Kirk Edelman, chief commercial officer of New York City Energy Safaria solar energy company, answered questions from Energy On the solar energy industry and how it fits in with the growing need for commercial and industrial facilities to produce their own power to ensure a reliable and resilient supply of electricity.

Power: What are some of the new technologies that could be deployed in the coming years in commercial and industrial environments for power generation?

Edelman: We see continued growth in solar C&I in the coming years. While solar energy is no longer a “new” technology, we’ve seen that it’s still a relatively unfamiliar concept to many at C&I Real Estate. This means that while the general idea of ​​solar energy is widely accepted, new customers often need to be educated about financing structures and impact on their own sustainability goals.

Kirk Edelman

One of the “new” aspects of solar energy is that in many states, including California, New Jersey and Maryland, legislation is being passed for some new buildings to be “solar ready.” These types of mandates speak to the widespread adoption and acceptance of solar technology.

However, there are also relatively new technologies adjacent to solar energy that are increasingly being deployed. Battery energy storage systems, for example, are added to solar arrays to extend the impact of the energy they generate, as well as provide financial benefits, ESG benefits and flexibility. According to the Energy Storage Association (now part of the American Clean Energy Association), energy storage currently makes up only 2% of US generation capacity but is expected to reach 4.4 gigawatts in annual deployments by 2024.

In addition to hybrid storage + solar technology, we expect to see more electric vehicle (EV) charging stations deployed in commercial and industrial projects. Electric vehicle charging stations are expected to grow exponentially due to increased demand in shopping malls, logistics parking bays and public parking lots. Federal tax credits and lower electric vehicle costs will drive adoption of this technology.

Authority: What are the most important issues that C&I clients (companies, universities, etc.) should consider before proceeding with the installation of a power generation system (size, location, permit, etc.)

Edelman: Before considering renewable energy, it is important for C&I clients to understand their strategic goals. Asking questions like, “Does my business have access to low-cost capital?” , or “What is my company’s tax appetite?” , will help determine the type of financing structure that best suits the client’s unique needs. Asking these questions early and choosing the right development partner to help navigate the process is critical to project implementation.

However, F&D is just one piece of the puzzle. Evaluating the costs and benefits of the system is another important element that C&I clients must consider. The success of any renewable energy project can vary greatly depending on its size and position, availability of incentives, electricity rate, tenant relationships, and other factors.

To better understand the benefits of a potential project and to quickly assess large portfolios, solar developers like Safari Energy often use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics to evaluate key metrics for real estate portfolios so that C&I clients can make the most educated investment decision possible.

Strength: How important is it, from a financial point of view, to a C&I client’s ability to generate its own electricity?

Edelman: On-site renewable energy generation can provide a variety of financial and operational benefits that can also be customized to specific goals. If a company has the capital to own a solar system, the fuel and electricity generated will have no additional cost. Moreover, the solar project is likely to benefit from the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which is a huge incentive. This can benefit companies with a tax appetite.

With solar energy, C&I customers can also secure low, predictable electricity rates for extended periods of time through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). Companies that prefer not to own their own systems often seek PPAs for a discount on utility rates, which can fluctuate and increase over time.

It is important to note that financial incentives are not the only benefits for C&I clients who invest in solar energy. ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) objectives are often a focus of C&I clients due to increased pressure from investors and often those from their own supply chains, which also have a large carbon footprint.

Energy: What do you think is the biggest factor (reliability, flexibility, energy costs, etc.) for a C&I client when it comes to a power system? Is ESG a key consideration? Carbon removal?

Edelman: ESG factors have increasingly led to sustainable action by companies in recent years. We expect this trend to continue, as the US Securities and Exchange Commission announced a proposed standard for ESG reporting for US-traded companies. This reflects the importance that investors and stakeholders place on environmental stewardship and carbon-intensive companies. targeted.

Solar Projects addresses the “E” at the ESG. Solar energy is a good ESG solution because it is straightforward, cost effective and immediately impactful. Other ESG solutions can be more complex, require a change in behavior, or have long-term and difficult-to-measure outcomes. Once the solar system is installed, the benefits come back once it is up and running.

C&I clients often prefer solar power for their electricity needs because it can be a flexible solution. For example, while some industrial facilities may prioritize the energy reliability of their operations, retail customers may be more interested in lowering the cost of ordering. Regardless of the sector, solar energy can be a solution in many different areas.

Energy: What other factors should be considered for C&I energy systems?

Edelman: It is important to consider all factors of the power system, not just the basic equipment. Many people focus only on the more obvious aspects that make up the system – like the panels in a solar project, or the battery in an energy storage project. However, the project can suffer due to factors beyond the hardware.

The use of technology such as artificial intelligence and data analytics can also benefit the design of a solar energy project, such as the way a system is sized, located, designed, built, interconnected, or even financed. Having a strategic partner with the ability to assess a C&I client’s priorities and streamline the process with customized technology will provide significant benefits.

Daryl Proctor POWER Senior Associate Editor (Tweet embed).

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