Solar 101 Series - Intro to Solar Energy Project Types
The solar energy industry offers a variety of project types for organizations looking to convert to sustainable energy.
Whether you’re looking to produce energy onsite or remotely, or whether your energy needs position you better for being grid-connected or grid-independent, Onyx can help you find the clean energy solutions that are right for you.
In this white paper, we will aim to provide you an overview of some of the main solar project types, as well as discuss their key features and considerations. And once you’re up to speed, let’s explore how we can help your organization reach your sustainability goals!
Did you know that in just one day, the Sun produces enough energy to power all of humankind’s energy needs for an entire year? In fact, by some estimates, if human technology were advanced enough to capture all of this solar potential, we could power the Earth’s annual energy needs in a single hour. That’s a lot of solar energy coming our way!
It’s really no wonder then that the solar energy industry has experienced such tremendous growth in most recent years, with consumer demand for clean energy solutions increasing exponentially (both for businesses and residential customers) and the cost of solar technology trending downward overall (with some recent exceptions related to supply chain constraints and import tariffs, which we’ll get to in another white paper soon!).
As a result of all this rapid growth, several distinct types of solar energy projects and technologies that have been developed and implemented in the industry in recent years. Each of these applications has its own unique characteristics and advantages, and this white paper aims to clarify the benefits of each solution in simple terms. As you read further, we will provide you with an overview of some of the leading types of solar assets and discuss their key features and considerations. Once you’re up to speed, let’s explore how Onyx can help your organization reach its sustainability goals!
Solar Energy Project Types | For your organization or business
The solar industry offers a variety of project types for commercial and industrial customers, including businesses, governments and schools. These applications can range from small-scale rooftop installations to larger ground-mounted systems and can afford institutions numerous benefits, including cost savings, energy independence, and reduced carbon footprint. See our white paper on the benefits of adopting solar energy for your institution today, linked here!
One of the most commonly recognizable types of solar projects would arguably be the rooftop installation. Have you ever driven by a building with a series of rectangular instruments attached to its upper façade? That’s rooftop solar. These projects involve installing solar panels on roofs of buildings or homes in order to capture sunlight and generate energy. Rooftop projects are particularly well-suited for facilities that have large, flat (or mostly flat) roofs (or mostly flat) and a consistent electricity demand. Aside from affording the facility a source of onsite sustainable energy, rooftop solar can also indirectly benefit the building by providing temperature insulation, further enhancing the property’s energy efficiency. Many businesses, both large and small, have adopted roof-mounted solar arrays to convert their otherwise-unused roof space into a new revenue stream.
Another standard type of solar project is the ground mount system. These projects involve installing solar panels on a structural racking system that is fixed to the ground, rather than on a rooftop. Ground-mounted systems are great for organizations that have large stretches of land that otherwise go unused, such as capped landfills, old agricultural land, or even open fields along school campus grounds. Ground mounts have the ability to generate some of the highest energy yields, especially because they can be either fixed-tilt or tracking. Fixed-tilt systems are stationary and have been positioned at an optimal angle relative to the sun for maximum production year-round. On the other hand, tracker systems have solar panels that are positioned on an axis or piece of equipment that allows them to swivel back and forth, tracking the direction of sunlight such that even more energy is produced.
The third most common project type is the carport or canopy installation. A solar carport canopy is a structure that is built in parking lots to provide shading and weather protection for vehicles while also incorporating solar panels to generate electricity. The installation of a solar carport involves mounting solar panels on the top of the canopy, which can be constructed using a variety of materials, such as steel or aluminum. Carport canopies can also be designed to match the aesthetic of the surrounding area or building and are a great addition to new facility constructions for this reason. See how we helped Irvine Unified School District in California equip their new school campuses with solar carports here!
All three types of installations discussed above can be either grid-tied, meaning that they are connected to the traditional electrical grid and can sell excess energy back to the utility (by a process called net metering), or off-grid, meaning that they are not connected to the grid and rely on batteries to store excess energy (commonly called a microgrid).
In addition to traditional solar energy projects, it’s possible for your organization to adopt clean energy even if you don’t currently have the ability to host the solar technology physically on site. Utility companies have a number of programs, such as community solar or virtual net metering, that can still afford you the potential to benefit from renewables. For example, community solar projects involve the development of a shared solar energy system that is located remotely from the site of energy usage, the energy from which can be received by signing up for the delivery of a portion of the power generation. Facilities that do not have the roof space or land necessary for a traditional solar energy project are particularly well-suited for this type of project / program.
Overall, the solar energy industry offers a variety of project types for organizations looking to convert to sustainable energy. Whether you’re looking to produce energy onsite or remotely, or whether your energy needs position you better for being grid-connected or grid-independent, Onyx can help you find the clean energy solutions that are right for you. Learn more about the benefits of adopting clean energy with us here!