Solar demand is booming from businesses of all shapes and sizes. While SEIA expects a 14% decline in the commercial and industrial (C&I) solar market this year due to the supply, 2023 will see an increase in growth to 32% as an expanding range of companies look to save on fast-rising energy costs and meet sustainability goals.
While much of this demand comes from large corporations, it also comes from smaller businesses that have little in-house energy expertise or solar experience. For these companies, successful projects depend on partnering with installers and equipment providers who can help navigate the complexities of solar system design and procurement.
LONGi has seen this up close, as we help many installer partners select the right solar modules for their customers. Whether a project calls for 60-cell or 72-cell formats, monofacial or bifacial modules, or rooftop or ground-mounted systems, we can help installers choose from our wide range of solar products with confidence.
Small Business Successes
Uyesugi Dental, a family dentistry in San Jose, is one example of small business solar adoption. Dental practices need more electricity than your average office, requiring specialized equipment like vacuums, pumps, drills, and x-ray machines. Combined with California’s high electricity prices, owner Dr. Kaz Uyesugi was facing bills as high as $3,000 a month.
Dr. Uyesugi and his wife Ilene, who manages the office, had envisioned going solar for years, and when the pandemic began, they decided it was time to finally take action. To make this dream a reality, they worked with Cinnamon Energy Systems, a local installer founded by Barry Cinnamon—a veteran of the home solar industry who has expanded his company’s business to serve commercial customers as well.
In designing the 31-KW project, Cinnamon looked to LONGi’s distribution network to source our 72-cell Tier 1 modules, which helped save on total costs compared to the smaller-format modules used for residential installations. As a result, the Uyesugis will see an expected $11,000 in annual savings, delivering a payback of just 3.6 years on their solar investment.
Glassblower Ben is another example of the diversity of customers in the C&I market. Making the New Orleans-based company’s custom glasses requires heating a furnace at 2,200°F for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That’s enough load to make solar cost-effective even in Louisiana, despite some of the lowest electricity prices in the country.
Like the Uyesugis, founder Ben Dombey partnered locally, choosing leading Gulf Coast solar company Solar Alternatives to design and install the system. And much like Cinnamon, Solar Alternatives worked with LONGi to select our 72-cell modules for their combination of cost and efficiency.
The 19-KW project will save Glassblower Ben an estimated $120,000 over its lifetime and prevent an estimated 500 tons of CO2 from being emitted from Louisiana’s fossil fuel-dominated grid. In Ben’s words, “glassblowing is very material and energy intensive and I looked to the sun to help me reduce my impact on the environment. The cost savings don’t hurt either.”
The opportunity to grow with C&I
We’re seeing solar projects from companies of every size, and seeing solar working for more and more small businesses proves just how much potential this market has to grow. In fact, Wood Mackenzie estimates that 70% of the country’s commercial real estate could be solarized. Similarly, residential-focused installers have ample opportunities to follow Cinnamon’s example and seize growth opportunities in the C&I space. And whether C&I has been your bread and butter from day one or is a new market for your business, LONGi is ready to support you as a trusted supplier partner.
By Aaron Thurlow, LONGi Head of Distributed Generation North America
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