Gas stations running on commercial solar power is a growing phenomenon in the U.S.
In 2013, a downtown Salt Lake City gas station installed photovoltaic panels to provide power. Soon after, Oregon and Vermont also became home to solar-powered gas stations. Now, a multinational oil and gas company has announced plans to add 200 megawatts of commercial photovoltaic capacity to 5,000 of its fuel stations around the world.
Clearly, gas stations are increasingly becoming a meeting ground between fossil fuels and renewable energy.
Electricity bills can be expensive for service stations, especially those that include convenience stores. In fact, running multiple freezers, refrigerators and lighting 24 hours a day can cost thousands of dollars each month. Adding solar panels and using free energy from the sun translates to big savings, especially when business owners can take advantage of reduced equipment and installation costs.
Financial incentives make installing commercial photovoltaic systems especially affordable. Local, state and federal solar tax credits and grants, as well as rebates from professional contractors, can bring down costs by at least half — more, in some cases.
Considering the high monthly electricity costs at gas stations and the decreased investment costs for solar, the payback period can be quick. A photovoltaic installation could pay for itself in just a few years. After that, it’s pure profit for the gas station owner.
The average gas station has shade structures over the fuel pumps, and these canopies are ideally suited for photovoltaic panel arrays.
At many service stations, these canopies are substantial, allowing for the installation of a large solar panel array. In addition, service station canopies typically have few shading issues that can affect photovoltaic output.
Finally, atop a canopy, photovoltaic panels can be positioned to capture an optimal amount of the sun’s energy. This allows gas stations to create their own electricity without giving up any valuable space on the property.
Electricity costs have been on the rise for decades, and there’s little reason to think that’s going to change. By installing a commercial solar power system, a gas station can lock in long-term energy savings that can act as a buffer against increased utility rates.
Gas stations with commercial photovoltaic arrays are wisely preparing for the future. Every year, more electric vehicles hit the road, which means consumers have an increasing need for charging stations. Adopting solar now is a valuable step toward adapting a traditional service station into one that can provide both gasoline and charging stations for electric vehicles.
Solar energy is a sound investment for service stations as well as a variety of other businesses. To learn how your business can benefit from commercial solar power, contact Intermountain Wind & Solar. We serve clients in Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado — trust us to be your local commercial solar power expert.
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