Let's focus on the value of energy efficiency solutions, not the cost


Monday 29 October 2018



In the latest insight article from FlexiSolar and as part of its Driving Solar Evolution campaign, Business Development Manager Conal McElroy shares his thinking on the number one question that always comes up in any large-scale solar carport project discussions.

We've seen a great start to our 'Driving Solar Evolution' campaign - with businesses and organisations across the country open to having a conversation with us, as to how large-scale solar carports are a key renewable energy solution and a clear route to reducing carbon emissions. There's growing interest in how we developed solutions that work within existing land resources (such as car parks) too.

We know that an increasing number of businesses are making the move over to a renewable energy supply - but that more needs to be done, my FlexiSolar colleague Dawn Welsh talked about this very point in her latest article in our campaign.

There's another area in which more needs to be done too - and that's around the perception of cost. "How much will it cost" is in many cases one of the first things I'm asked in my role as Business Development Manager for FlexiSolar. Shouldn't the question be "How much is it worth?"

The 'Hidden treasure' report from management consultancy Bain & Company shows that switching to renewable power is the quickest and most cost-effective way for most organisations to cut their carbon footprint. See that? Cost-effective.

The business sector is the largest consumer of power in the country, buying around 56 percent of all the UK's electricity. For those big businesses that have already made the jump to renewable energy sources, the benefits are clear. British-Dutch multinational consumer goods company Unilever says it has saved more than 280m since 2008 by adopting eco-friendly measures. And IKEA's Sustainability Report 2015 showed a saving of 133m (115m) through energy efficiency measures since 2010.

So why aren't more businesses jumping at the chance to convert to renewable energy on a large-scale? Yes, there's an initial investment - but it's not prohibitive. Yes, there's work that needs to be undertaken to construct a solution - but there's no hassle factor.

Just imagine:
- No more line on the budget for electricity costs
- Complete clarity on energy costs, not just now but for the long term future too; safe from market volatility and third party costs
- No more dependency on the electricity grid
- Energy security thanks to your own supply
- Energy actually becoming a profit centre - covering your own business usage and selling the surplus to the grid.

That's a pretty good list demonstrating the value of renewable energy solutions. We're passionate about the role large-scale solar carports have as a key renewable solution too. A large-scale solar carport solution might cost less than you think - and its returns certainly outweigh the costs, with between 9-14 per cent internal rate of return (IRR) on any site, based on the scale of solar project and the geographical location - making a viable payback of under 10 years - and that's even before you begin to look at additional cost-free revenue such as integrated EV charge-points (look out for our next blog), advertising opportunities and Battery Energy Storage. Take a look at our illustrated example below, based on a car park in Southampton with 100 car parking bays - and no EV charge-points creating additional revenue. My colleagues and I would love to have a conversation with you about it.

I can't help but agree with Bain & Company, energy efficiency is a hidden treasure - and I happen to think that our large-scale solar carport solutions are too. That's why we are on a mission; FlexiSolar - Driving Solar Evolution.



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