Investing in solar energy is a journey rather than a sprint. The investment can last for decades, influence your property value, directly impact your operations, and have immediate financial pay-off. Due to the significance of adopting solar energy, it is natural to have questions.
Asking the right questions can make the decision-making process more manageable. It will help you understand the system that will work for your circumstance, which solar energy partner to use, how to negotiate and what you can anticipate for the future.
The wrong questions will not give you the insight you seek. If you base your decisions on inaccurate information, you can end up with your system breaking down, becoming hard to maintain, and far more expensive than you anticipated. So turn the following wrong questions into a more informative conversation with your solar energy partner by using the following guidelines.
A solar energy solution isn’t similar to buying a commodity like fuel where one solution fits all. Purchasing a solar solution isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavour; the size of the solar energy system is a function of factors that the solar provider can only consider after consultations and site visits.
When you talk to a solar energy partner, it is better to determine if the solution on offer fits your purpose and meets your business needs. Here are some questions you can ask about the systems on offer that will help you determine the best solar energy solution:
You want to get your solar project up and running ASAP; that’s understandable, but rushing the process won’t help. The quickest installation does not mean the best solution. If the solar energy provider can implement a solution quickly, you may face challenges (and hidden expenses) through the process. But that doesn’t mean you should be in the dark about the installation process; by all means, inform yourself. Try using the following line of questioning:
Cheap isn’t always good; in fact, cheap usually means you will pay more later when something goes wrong. Yes, you should never overpay for anything, but if you treat solar energy systems as a commodity rather than a solution, you will be amiss. What you are looking for are financing options.
You will find multiple financial offers and payment structures that can unlock value for your business in the market. You will need the help of your solar solutions provider to weigh the costs, benefits and value creation of the financial aspect of your solar solution. For example, SolarAfrica provides a PPA financing solution that requires no capital expenditure on your part. Here’s how you can start the conversation about financing your solar solution when ownership isn’t an option for your business:
What determining factors were used to get to the proposed solar PV tariff? Ask about the solar yield and consumption values – what will the system produce versus what I will consume?
To estimate future costs accurately, you will also need to know what the annual escalation rate is that the solar energy provider uses.
Make sure to find out whether your PPA tariff has been based on a No Take or Pay premise where you only pay for the power you use.
Be sure to ask whether the proposed lifetime savings have been based on the same number of years as the agreement term, as this is often overlooked when comparing the financing costs vs. savings.
If owning a solar system is key for your business then it may be worth considering the following questions:
You and your employees understand solar energy, but it may be something you have never engaged in. So knowing what to look for in a company may not be in your company’s skill set.
Your investment in solar energy is significant, and its function will be vital to your operations. So your enquiries should be along the lines of:
There is a desire by businesses to have as much control over their assets as possible, that includes the solar energy system. It’s natural to want independence from a solar partner; you don’t want your energy to rely on their performance. But it’s also vital that you understand that solar energy solutions are highly complex machines. If your employees make a mistake, then they can damage your solar modules. Damages not only cost you money to repair, but they also cost you energy production, which will affect your operations and bottom line.
You may perform simple tasks to maintain the solar panels, but you should never go beyond what the solar partner stipulates. Sticking within the parameters not only reduces the risk of damaging the equipment but also ensures your warranties remain valid. A more productive conversation with your solar partner regarding maintenance should go like this:
After installation, the solar energy solution becomes part of your operations. You need to understand how it will fit into your plans, maintenance, and opportunities. Here is how you can ask questions about the future:
It’s good to have questions, so feel free to enquire. Ask the right questions, and you will spark an informative conversation with your solar energy provider. Try SolarAfrica, and have a candid conversation about the solar solution that will work for you. With better insights from an honest conversation, you can make smarter decisions.
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