Businesses normally use commercial solar systems to reduce electricity expenses, but this decision also brings a marketing benefit. Clean energy improves brand image, and a company that makes ample use of solar power is viewed as corporate citizen with environmental conscience. Australians have a very positive perception of solar power, since it provides an alternative to the expensive and confusing electricity plans offered by energy retailers.
Information travels fast in the modern world, and backlash can be severe when a business decision has a negative impact on communities or ecosystems. In the case of publicly-traded companies, consequences are even more severe because stock value tends to decrease sharply after a corporate scandal.
A company that appears in headlines for deciding to purchase 100% of its electricity from a coal-fired power plant exposes itself to public backlash. The opposite also applies: a decision to use only renewable energy draws positive attention from the media.
Solar power systems are characterised by operating with zero greenhouse gas emissions. Large commercial and industrial buildings consume significant amounts of electricity each year, and the emissions avoided with solar power are considerable. The following is a very simplified example, but it illustrates the concept:
After using solar power for one year, this company will have kept 240 tonnes of carbon dioxide away from the atmosphere, while reducing its electricity expenses. The company can publish a press release about the solar power project, as a strategy to improve corporate image.
Solar panels are also highly visible, especially when installed on the rooftop of a large commercial or industrial buildings. Once the photovoltaic array is installed and operational, the public can tell that the company is using clean energy.
When commercial and industrial energy consumers are strongly dependant on fossil fuels, their brand image can be negatively affected. The use of solar power and other clean energy sources not only delivers savings, but also a boost for their corporate image. By going green, companies are also more likely to establish lucrative business relationships with other firms who share their values.
Even if there was a technology capable of eliminating the emissions of fossil fuels, solar power would still be the winning option based on kilowatt-hour prices alone. Australian companies across all business sectors are deploying renewable sources and energy storage, simply because they offer an economic alternative to purchasing electricity from the local network.