Before looking into the benefits of rooftop solar for factories, let’s look at the deciding factors based on which this could be feasible.

Deciding factors:

  • Rooftop Area: Most factories have enough rooftop area to house a solar PV plant to meet a portion of their energy needs. In almost all cases this ample space available can be productively used for solar energy generation.
  • Load requirements: Factories come with a lot of energy intensive processes like manufacturing, assembling, repairing, processing, etc. These processes are supported by loads with a very high level of energy consumption like motors, compressors, chillers, etc. It is critical to identify what loads are to be supported by solar power.
  • Timings: Most factories work on shift basis and would need power even during night time when the solar PV plants would not be able to support it. So the cost benefit analysis of rooftop solar systems with energy storage solutions needs to be looked into.

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Now, let’s look at the benefits of factories going solar:

  • Supporting peak hour demand

Rooftop solar systems generate electricity while the sun shines, which for most factory units coincides with their peak hours of operation. Therefore, during the daytime, you’ll have the option of not drawing from the grid or minimal dependence on the grid. This strong backup of power ensures increased manufacturing productivity during peak hours which translates to higher profits.

  • Reduced dependence on diesel backup

Most factories depend heavily on diesel generators to ensure continuous power. Solar power can reduce the dependence on the diesel power; if not completely eliminate the need for it. Solar power comes at a levelized cost of around a quarter of diesel power. Hence it makes more sense to depend on solar power, subjected to the time of usage.

  • For charging batteries for specific purposes

ABB has a factory that uses rooftop solar power plant for charging their batteries for forklift trucks. This application of solar power can be used by other factories as well which need their batteries charged for specific purposes.

  • Minimal maintenance

As we know, solar power plants have no moving parts. This results in minimal need to maintain it. Another advantage is that its noise-free .A noise-free power generation unit could be welcome in an otherwise noisy scenario of a factory.

  • Flexibility

Rooftop solar PV system designs can be highly customized. System sizes can be specifically tailored to meet your energy, space and budget requirements.

  • Energy Security

Rooftop Solar PV plants can support selected loads or all the connected loads during a load shedding occasion, if it happens during the daytime. Solar PV plants are able to support factories at night with battery storage solutions, subject to a higher system cost.

However as in every other case, going solar also has a lot of constraints. A few are listed below:

  • Availability

Solar power is available only during sunshine hours and the output varies depending on meteorological conditions. For example, passing clouds can significantly reduce the output from it. Hence solar power can only be used coupled with another source of power in order to ensure a stable supply of power.

  • Load-shedding timings

We know that factories depend heavily of diesel generators for backup. If most of the load shedding timing is during the night time, even with solar power plants, it would not be able to aid in cutting down on diesel power bills.

So, as we’ve discussed, there are many merits attached to rooftop solar in   factories. Globally, factories are now looking at going solar in order to meet at least a portion of their energy needs, if not all of it.

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