How Accessible Is Renewable Energy for the Standard Business Owner?

How Accessible Is Renewable Energy for the Standard Business Owner?
Reading Time: 5 minutes

How Accessible Is Renewable Energy for the Standard Business Owner? Apple HQ Cupertino. Image Unsplash.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

How Accessible Is Renewable Energy for the Standard Business Owner?

Solving the climate crisis requires a coordinated approach between individual citizens, governments and corporations. Business leaders play an integral role, as they are society’s movers and shakers, dictating the course of daily life through the decisions they make. One of the most essential is switching to renewable energy, but how accessible is it? 

While there are hurdles to overcome, many business owners stand to gain substantial benefits from stepping up and doing their part. Doing so creates a ripple effect, encouraging their staff to live more sustainably, who then go on to inspire others around them. It can even help you attract new business and establish new profit streams. Let’s examine how accessible renewable energy is for the standard business owner and why they should rise to the challenges. 

Benefits of Renewable Energy for Business Owners 

Switching to renewable energy isn’t an act of charity for business owners. Although it may entail an initial capital investment, it pays you back dividends in four ways. 

1. Save on Expenses

How much do you spend on utilities? Investing in solar technology can save you a small fortune in electricity, especially in heating and cooling costs. Each kilowatt hour you produce through solar energy is one less on your bill. For example, large warehouses can cost thousands of dollars monthly in climate control alone — generate your own power through solar and slash your bill to triple digits or less. 

2. Enhance Customer Appeal and Attract New Customers 

According to several 2023 surveys, consumers across all age groups are willing to pay more for sustainability. How much more they’re willing to pay depends upon other factors in their budgets, but the average is 12%. How many firms increased their profits by that wide of a margin last year? 

However, surveys also show that consumers remain skeptical about corporate greenwashing. You don’t get much more sustainable than switching to solar to reduce emissions, so broadcast your move:

  • On your corporate web pages
  • In your printed marketing materials 
  • In your recruitment ads — today’s top graduates also value sustainability and want to work for eco-conscious firms

3. Make Money by Selling Energy Back to the Grid

In the US, approximately 51% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2017 was a result of activity in the industry and transportation sectors. The generation of electricity comprises another 28% due to the continuous burning of coal, as well as other fossil fuels. 

What if you could flip that statistic into a plus for your bottom line instead of a liability for the planet? 

You could. Some utility companies have already partnered with governmental agencies to let consumers sell the energy they generate back to the grid. Doing so expedites solar expansion by delivering green energy to people who can’t yet afford panels by letting those with the means earn perks for converting. 

Business owners stand to gain even more if they are industrious. For example, see what you could earn by covering your parking lot with solar panels. You might generate enough to power your operations and create a secondary revenue stream. Furthermore, your employees and customers will benefit from covered parking, a godsend as climate change causes rising temperatures. They might even charge their e-vehicles, with you pocketing the profit. 

4. Stay Ahead of Changing Regulations 

Many governments default to enacting fewer, rather than more, regulations, as new rules invariably create unforeseen issues. However, as climate change increases competition for resources and forces adaptation, they’ll need to act. 

Already, many jurisdictions have enacted legislation aimed at reducing fossil fuel use, like phasing out traditional vehicles. It’s not inconceivable that future oil and coal bans could shut down plants that haven’t converted to clean energy, if only because they cannot upgrade in sufficient time. Do it now. 

Barriers to Renewable Energy Adoption for Business Owners 

The benefits of adopting renewable energy are many for business owners. What’s stopping more from making the switch? Here are the barriers and how to overcome them. 

1. High Upfront Costs

Even though you can reap sweet tax benefits for converting to solar, you still must budget the initial investment. Depending on the size of your project, you could be looking at thousands, even millions of dollars. Many businesses don’t have that kind of capital lying around — how can they upgrade quickly? Three options offer promise:

  • Loans: Although rates are high at the moment, calculate the projected increase in sales and money saved on fossil fuel energy use when deciding if borrowing is the right deal. You may still find the profit potential outweighs the interest paid. 
  • Grants: Democratic administrations have historically proven more amenable to grants for sustainable development, so consider taking advantage of the current political climate. 
  • Power-purchase agreements: A third party installs and operates a power-generating facility on your property, letting you take advantage of decreased energy costs while they reap the tax credits and income from the sale of excess electricity. 

2. Lack of Technical Expertise 

People take a bit of time to get up to speed with new technologies, and solar is no exception. Although there is currently a shortage of qualified solar installers and maintenance technicians, their numbers continue to grow with consumer demand. 

Fortunately, installing such systems is often easier than traditional electrical systems and presents less of a fire risk. The right expert consultant can get crews up and running quickly and train owners on routine maintenance tasks. 

3. Regulatory Barriers 

Perhaps the most frustrating barrier to business owners hoping to adopt renewable energy is the quagmire of regulations they must first wade through to get such projects approved. 

For example, you must get parking lot solar panel builds approved by local building and zoning boards. Convincing some could be tough, but the increasing need for renewables paired with America’s car-centered culture will make the process easier. 

Strategies Business Owners Can Use to Increase Renewable Energy Use and Accessibility

Business owners can do more to increase the availability of renewable energy. In addition to adopting such power sources themselves, they can educate others in the community by:

  • Investigating partnerships with local utility companies. As power companies switch to solar, they’ll need places for panel farms. If you have a parking lot or other suitable area to use, you could strike a bargain that benefits you both. 
  • Researching educational partnerships with local schools. You can teach the youngest community members about your green efforts, and they’ll be sure to spread the news to their parents. Additionally, you can generate interest in your company, products and services while teaching young people about the importance of sustainable energy. 
  • Attending community events. Set up informational tables where you can broadcast your sustainability commitment while gaining name recognition and building your corporate reputation. 

Making Renewable Energy More Accessible to the Standard Business Owner 

Renewable energy offers multiple benefits to business owners, from cutting costs to generating additional revenue. They can also take the helm in assisting others who don’t yet have the resources to convert. 

Today’s consumer understands the importance of navigating away from fossil fuels in favor of clean energy use. Improve your brand’s reputation while preparing your firm for what’s to come and doing your part to move society into a sustainable future. 

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