Commercial solar

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Introduction

Commercial solar has exploded in popularity in the past handful of years, all across the world. More and more businesses in Australia have been turning to the power of commercial solar to power their places of work. There are several practical reasons to install a commercial solar system, from reduced reliance on the normal electrical grid, a cheaper electric bill, and increased flexibility. In fact, we’ve talked about those reasons in a previous blog post. However, beyond that, why should businesses care about commercial solar? In this blog entry, I want to make the case that businesses should care about pursuing renewable energy, such as commercial solar, beyond just practical reasons. 

Climate Change

By this point in time, it’s hard to deny the impact of climate change upon us all. From increased fire risks, more extreme weather events, and the migration and even die-offs of native flora and fauna, the effects of climate change can be felt today. That impact has been reflected in public opinion. 

In a survey conducted in 2019, respondents reported that the environment was the second most important problem facing Australia, behind the economy. In that poll, the environment ranked as a bigger issue than the government/politicians, social issues, and immigration/population. Moreover, the environment saw the biggest rise from the previous year, displaying a large increase of anxiety over climate change. Most of this anxiety seems to be coming from the age 18-24 population, with 43% of them reporting that it was the biggest problem facing Australia. This figure makes sense – young people have to inherit our increasingly chaotic environment, after all. 

So, we can see a concern over the environment and climate change that’s only increasing with every year that goes by. 

The Effect of Solar Panels on the Environment

While there is no single silver bullet that will help the environment, the mass adoption of commercial solar can have a measurable impact on climate change. Solar panels, as we are all well aware, use the power of the sun to drive the production of usable electricity. While this is a remarkably clean source of energy, it’s not completely without emissions, especially at this point in time. The production and transportation of solar panels currently cannot be done without some emissions, and it’s been estimated that solar power produces about 40g of CO2 emissions per kilowatt-hour. Other estimations put it as low as 21g per kWh. While this may seem like a lot, it’s important to note that coal power plants produce 1,000 g of CO2 emissions per kilowatt-hour, and “cleaner” natural gas generation produces around 400 g of CO2 emissions per kWh. 

Just imagine how much better things would be as solar power continues to be adopted by businesses and residential areas alike. With such a drastic decrease in emissions, we would certainly see positive benefits reflected in the environment. While it may seem like a drop in the ocean now, just remember, we all have to start somewhere. A cumulative photovoltaic capacity of 7552 MW was installed in Australia in 2017. Today, there are over 21,000. 

Corporate Social Responsibility

Do businesses have a responsibility to care about the environment, though? Should they care about installing commercial solar? More and more people are saying that, yes, they do, and, in fact, it’s their responsibility.

 

Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, is the idea that companies should engage in activities or enact policies that are not just beneficial to their bottom line, but to the communities that they’re embedded in. There are no rules and no laws that dictate that any company should do this, but many people still believe that it’s the right thing to do. Climate change is a problem that affects all of us, too, from the biggest corporations to individuals in society. We all have to live here, after all. 

Of course, there are also other, more immediate reasons to engage in some CSR. 

On top of helping the community around you, caring about social responsibility can help to attract and retain employees. As we can see from the polling results above, people care more and more about the environment. If your corporate culture and even policies align with those values, employees are more likely to be attracted to your business in the first place and are more likely to stay if they feel like their workplace cares about the same issues they do. 

CSR can also help your brand. According to a survey conducted by Nielsen in 2015, more than half of all consumers are willing to pay more for a product or service if the business prioritizes sustainability. 

 

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