Solar power is clean and inexpensive, but it needs batteries to store energy for periods when the sun doesn’t shine. The right combination of solar + storage can create large utility savings and reduced emissions for most businesses. Batteries can save on utility bills through demand charge reductions and time of use shifting. Using sophisticated software, batteries can also generate revenues by providing “grid services” such as demand response, congestion relief, frequency regulation, and wholesale market participation. Batteries can help businesses stay operational when the grid goes down. This resiliency is important in areas prone to power outages and in industries where grid failures are catastrophic to the business.
On a Federal level, The Investor Tax Credit (ITC) and new rules on bonus depreciation can subsidize approximately half of your solar + storage project costs. State subsidies like California’s Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) can almost cover the other half of the storage portion. Taken together with the right tax equity partners, these can result in substantial near-term savings to your business. However, both the ITC and SGIP are scheduled to phase out over the coming years. Act fast to maximize your benefits!
Solar + storage projects save businesses money in two main ways: they reduce the need to purchase energy from the local utility, and they reduce the monthly peak demand periods that cause peak charges on your utility bill. This “peak shaving” is handled using smart software, fast bi-directional inverters, and batteries.
Amped uses software by Growing Energy Labs, Inc. (www.geli.net) to design, operate, and monitor your project in real time. On the hardware side we integrate with many different commercial inverter and battery companies to bring the best solutions to market. Your savings depends on many variables such as roof size and current load profile, but it is not uncommon to see a 15%+ savings on your utility bill after accounting for system costs. As these projects can last for 20 years or more, the savings can add up to large returns over time.
As of 2018, the solar portion of most larger projects (>350kW solar) costs around $2/watt for rooftop solar and slightly more for carport solar. Carports are a nice option in situations where the roof is too old or not structurally sound enough for solar, and they also provide welcome shade and potential charging stations for electric vehicles. The battery portion for larger commercial projects (e.g., 500kW/1MWh) range is around $750/kWh installed. The smallest fully-integrated commercial systems (30kW/60kWh) are priced around $100K for installation depending on the physical layout of the site. A typical hotel solar + storage project in California might require $1.5-$2.0MM of capital expense.
Many of the economic benefits to solar + storage rely on tax incentives. If your company is profitable and pays taxes, it may make the most sense to purchase the system outright and claim the Investor Tax Credit (ITC) and bonus depreciation on your own. If you own your building or can partner with the owner, you may also qualify for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. This is probably the most cost-effective way to borrow for any given project, but it requires a long-term lien on your property. Companies such as Clean Fund specialize in this type of commercial PACE finance. If neither of these options work, then you need a partner like Amped Solutions to finance and own your project. Amped sells you the energy from the project at a discount to the current pricing charged by your utility.
Amped Solutions analyzes your facility’s utility bills and makes a recommendation on the optimal amount of solar + storage. Systems can be sized based on years to payback, NPV, IRR, or other variables most important to the customer. From there, Amped assembles a team of engineers, finance specialists, lawyers, and project managers to bring your project to life. Site visits are critical to determine equipment siting and operational constraints. We work with experienced EPC’s (engineering, procurement, and construction) who are licensed State contractors to move a project from permitting to installation to utility interconnection to full operation. Customers can either purchase systems for cash or finance systems with a lease or power purchase agreement (PPA).
While no energy system is 100% safe, batteries have been in use for hundreds of years and are getting safer every day. Amped relies on the same suppliers that are installing millions of lithium batteries into cars manufactured by companies like BMW, GM, Mercedes, Tesla, Toyota, and Volvo. These electric vehicles (EVs) are rolling all over our freeways at high rates of speed whereas Amped’s batteries are stationary and typically locked away in utility rooms or behind fencing and/or bollards.
Most commercial batteries are designed to last 10-15 years and carry at least a 10-year warranty. After this time they may only have 50-60% of the rated capacity. Electric vehicle batteries can be re-purposed into “second-life” batteries and used again in stationary commercial installations. It’s too early to know for sure how lithium commercial batteries will be recycled, but most likely they will follow a model similar to lead acid batteries which enjoy the highest recycling rate of any product, even higher than aluminum cans. The success of lead acid battery recycling is due to large government rewards/incentives for each battery returned.