By Chris Kalischefski, Principal-in-Charge, Design & Program Management
Energy prices have only been on the rise each year. For retailers, like gas stations that are open 24/7, this can lead to a significant cost of electricity. From running gas pumps to commercial refrigerators and keeping the lights on day and night, as you can imagine, the utility bills are high. This brings up an important question for gas station owners and fuel brands: how can you save on energy costs and maximize profitability? One excellent way is to invest in solar energy and watch the cost savings compound, year after year.
As we find greener ways to run our homes and businesses, the use of solar power has been booming in the United States. Depending on which state you’re in and how much sunshine you get per year, it makes sense for some businesses to switch to solar for the energy savings.
Let’s look at some of the statistics:
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, “In the last decade alone, solar has experienced an average annual growth rate of 33%. Thanks to strong federal policies like the solar Investment Tax Credit, rapidly declining costs, and increasing demand across the private and public sector for clean electricity, there are now more than 121 gigawatts (GW) of solar capacity installed nationwide, enough to power 23.3 million homes.” (1)
The federal tax credits, in particular, are a great incentive for fuel retailers to seek out a greener way to power their gas pumps and stores.
Yes! In fact, they are excellent candidates for commercial solar installations. Most gas stations have shade structures over the fuel pumps, making them ideal for large solar panel arrays to be installed right on top of the canopies. They can soak up the sun and do their job, while fuel retailers can reap the benefits of cleaner energy and the cost savings that come along with it.
Solar isn’t just limited to heating water. Now, fuel retailers can generate electricity to help run their stores and fuel pumps. It’s an exciting and innovative way to power retail locations that's both pollution-free and efficient, year-round.
You may be wondering, how can solar power produce enough energy in the winter months if you’re in a colder climate that tends to get less sun? In their guide for “Greening Gas Stations,” energy.gov describes how gas stations can take advantage of passive solar design to offset energy needs for a more sustainable energy model.
“For new gas stations, the building orientation, windows, walls, floors, and landscaping can all be put into service to collect and distribute solar energy as heat in the winter and the same elements act to impede heat from the sun in the summer.” (2)
Passive solar design takes into account different factors, like the design of a building, climate, and materials, to help balance out the distribution of heat throughout the winter and summer months.
Last but not least, let's get into the savings. Between the different federal, state, and utility incentives and rebates, fuel retailers can save a significant amount with solar installation. With all of the credits, retailers can experience higher ROI and the system will pay for itself in a few years, leaving more profit for gas station owners.
Here are some of the savings you can see right away:
If you’re a gas station owner considering if solar is the right move for you, the stats are clear. Electric costs are one area that costs money month-over-month, but doesn’t produce an ROI. Whereas, solar can have a positive ROI after a few years and leave more money for your bottom line. Not to mention, it’s a pollution-free alternative that puts your business ahead of the curve and helps attract customers who care about creating a sustainable planet.
The WT Group provides clients with a single-source engineering solution to help maintain the integrity of all projects from start to finish. With nearly 50 years of experience, WT Group’s highly skilled engineering, design and consulting teams ensure consistency, clarity, and accuracy in the most cost and time-efficient manner. Contact us today!