“From Saving the Planet to Saving Dollars”
The changing economics of alternative energy By Jeff Osborne
Fact: Buildings account for 71 percent of all the electricity consumed in the United States, which means that efficiency of buildings continues to become an increasing social and political issue.
Over the past decade, Alternative Energy technologies have switched from a “green” issue to an “economic” issue. The key is to take advantage of the savings, green image and let someone else deal with the financing, tax credits if applicable etc.
Your biggest takeaway is that Alternative Energy can save you money from Day 1 – without the need for major capital outlays.
- Take advantage of the savings, green image and let someone else deal with the financing, tax credits if applicable etc.
Beyond just putting solar panels on the roof, think of a complete energy ecosystem developing within the building envelope leveraging digitized devices:
- Connectivity of lighting, HVAC, solar and storage
Lighting upgrades offer less than three year paybacks and new applications can create more value to the enterprise and your customers:
- Niche applications like fuel cells and microturbines are poised to gain more share
Some other key points to remember include:
The expiration of the investment tax credit at the of 2016 for solar is driving near term demand of utilities, commercial customers and residential customers.
Other capital outlays can be bundled into the price of a solar system – GAF offering ownership of the solar system and funding a new roof through a power purchase agreement over 20 to 25 years.
In addition, storage systems can be bundled into the price of solar to avoid peak demand surcharges for commercial and industrial customers that are on time of use electricity rates.
Solar is economical in about 20 states in the United States, with the strongest growth in California, about 50 percent of solar installations, as well as the Northeast. North Carolina and the mid-Atlantic states are characterized as emerging growth areas.
Jeff Osborne is the managing director & senior research analyst for the Cowen and Company.