There are a number of factors that make it more difficult for businesses to go solar, including leased buildings and multi-business buildings. It’s also harder for smaller businesses to go solar, according to new research from the University of California, Riverside.
"Our work focuses on commercial customers because of the huge role they play in energy consumption,” said Wenyu Wang, a doctoral student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC Riverside. They also represent a huge opportunity for growth in the solar industry. Previous research showed that commercial buildings in the US Northeast, for instance, could host 95 gigawatts of solar power.
Wang and his associates published “A model for commercial adoption of photovoltaic systems in California” in Applied Physics Letters. "Gaining a good understanding of the driving factors will help us to evaluate current energy policies and to develop future policies," Wang explained.
Their research, which used a Bass diffusion model to explore the adoption of the technology in Southern California, found that commercial entities are more likely to have leased shared building spaces than homeowners. "In these situations, it becomes more difficult to 'go solar' because of a need to split the costs and benefits of solar PV systems."
They also found that size of the business matters. Large businesses, according to Wang, are better able to take advantage of government incentives and the decreasing costs of solar power. "Another important finding is that smaller businesses encounter more hurdles involved in adopting solar PV systems than larger businesses, a phenomenon known as 'small commercial solar gap’,” he said.
"Our model can help the government evaluate the impacts of energy policies on the solar PV market and to forecast the future solar adoptions," Wang said. "It can be a useful tool for policymakers to further boost the adoption of solar PV systems,” he contended.
Wang also stated that the research shows a need for government incentives and innovative business models to help the commercial solar PV market grow. It also can help grid planners forecast what the demand for solar energy will be, allowing them to update plans with more accurate solar adoption forecasts.Tweet