By Lorraine Moore, Sustainability Advisor, Cushman & Wakefield
Renewable energy plays a major role in decarbonizing our economy, but there are other drivers for organizations to increase their investment in alternative energy. Our global experts explain a number of ways it pays to invest in renewable energy and three onsite energy renewables to consider when assessing the sustainability of a site.
It Pays To Be Green: Why To Invest In Renewable Energy
In an age where the internet rules the expanding need for data space, organizational energy footprints are on the rise. This has led to energy security concerns for organizations and on a larger scale for countries.
“Green Investment” is taking center stage as shareholders pressure companies to shun investment in traditional fossil fuel industries and reduce the company’s environmental impact.
High energy prices in a number of regions have resulted in shorter pay back periods for renewables. Solar prices have dropped by more than 60% since 2009 and the trend is expected to continue. In a growing number of regions, renewable energy is now considered to be more cost effective than investing in traditional coal generation. The International Energy Agency predicts that the cost of large scale solar will drop by a further 25% by 2025.
Renewable energy has a lower emissions profile than traditional energy sources and can help organizations achieve their environmental and emissions targets.
In areas where there is a large dependency on important fuels such as gas, locally produced
renewable energy helps to diversify energy supply and hedge against market volatility and security of supply.
There has been a significant fall in the cost of investing in renewable technology in the past five years. The cost of solar alone has dropped by 62% since 2009.
There is additional financial support and a number of options available to companies that finance clean energy.
Three Onsite Energy Renewables
There are a number of onsite renewables available such as solar, wind, biomass, geothermal heat pumps and fuel cells. Solar PV is by far the most popular due to the increasingly affordable installation costs, good return on investment and low maintenance requirements. However, there are some things to consider when assessing the suitability of the site. This includes:
Installing solar on the roof may seem straight forward, however, a number of factors will need to be taken into consideration such as the roof condition, structural conditions, site alignment and electrical configuration. Similarly for wind generation, consideration needs to be given to the wind conditions at the site, zoning requirements and the availability of space for installation. Engaging an experienced professional to assess the suitability of the site for renewables should be the first step in assessing whether renewables are an option for your site.
If the company is the sole owner of the building or site this is pretty straight forward. However properties (mainly in the commercial space) often have complicated building ownership structures or tenancy and lease agreements such as via limited companies which may make it more difficult to sign agreements for solar. In addition to this tenants who wish to obtain the benefits of installing onsite renewables may not be in a position to do this due to their current lease arrangements with their landlords. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Alliance program has recently published a report Promoting Solar PV on Leased Buildings Guide (Benefits, Barriers and Strategies) that provides guidance to landlords and tenants who wish to install solar on the building they own or occupy.
There are now a number of financing options available for RE projects. If the finance is available, it is an option to purchase the system up-front. By owning the system, it is possible to take advantage of tax incentives, grants and in some instances to offset the systems cost with Renewable Energy Credits. Where the up-front capital is not readily available to purchase the system outright other options available include.
Lorraine Moore is the Sustainability Advisor for Cushman & Wakefield in Australia.