It seems surprising that more businesses don’t have solar panels on their roof, especially all those in big industrial buildings with big, flat roofs. (Gaze down while taking off from Manchester airport southbound on runway 17/35 and you’ll spot a sea of flat-roofed complexes.) Surely it’s a no-brainer to put up panels where nobody will object to their appearance, were nothing blocks the sunlight, and where there are good electric connections, and usually need for electricity, right underfoot.
But businesses are number-crunches at heart, and apparently the return on investment hasn’t been what it could be. Wiser, a renewable energy investment firm, set out to measure the possible market for commercial solar in the Northeast in mid-scale installations, meaning a few hundred kilowatt maximum output.
The numbers are eye-popping: It estimates that New Hampshie has 3.26 million kilowatts of “solar potential” for mid-scale commercial installations, but that only 4,410 kw has been installed. That’s 13/100ths of one percent.
Even solar-filled Vermont, which has something like eight times as much per-capita photovoltaic installation than New Hampshire, has less than 1 pecent of its theoretical commercial solar power installed.
Here’s a good piece in Greentech Media about it. It argues that a lack of information about costs and return on investment, as well as a lack of competitive financing, are the reason “the mid-scale commercial solar market in the U.S. currently lags well behind residential, large-scale and utility-scale solar projects.”