The environmental and social advantages of a commercial solar system.

Posted February 2024

When it comes to commercial solar installations, most South African businesses are aware of the obvious economic advantages of solar: there’s the long term savings and tax incentives they enjoy from switching to using solar energy, and then there’s the increased production capabilities and peace of mind that comes from a more stable power supply. 

Beyond these immediate economic and business advantages though, installing solar for your business also has a positive environmental and social impact – both on your local community, and on the world as a whole. In this article, we’ll unpack the main benefits.

Environmental impact

Unlike conventional power sources, solar power generates clean energy without reliance on environmentally-harmful fossil fuels. When a business switches to solar power, they’re reducing their carbon footprint – which aligns with global sustainable development goals in ensuring a healthier planet for future generations.

Solar panels are made from a variety of materials such as silicon, aluminium and glass, and their production certainly does have an environmental impact. However, their relatively long lifespan (typically of 25 years) means that the energy they will generate over their lifetime soon outweighs the energy used to produce them. When considering the entire lifecycle of a solar panel—from its manufacture to installation and then eventual disposal—the environmental impact is far lower than with coal-based power generation from Eskom. 

Community impact

The extraction, transportation and combustion of fossil fuels all contribute to environmental degradation and air pollution. Traditional energy production often involves air and water pollution which directly affects the immediate environment of a business, particularly for factories and plants within the industrial sector. 

In contrast, harnessing clean energy via solar power has a positive impact on the health, environmental and economic wellbeing of surrounding communities by contributing to improved air quality and reducing water pollution. This switch to clean energy enhances the social responsibility of business to its surroundings, by safeguarding the health of the immediate communities in which they operate. 

Social responsibility

Businesses serve as role models within society, influencing not only their employees and stakeholders but also the broader community. When a business embraces solar power, it sends a powerful message about the importance of sustainability and responsible resource management. Social responsibility is becoming a crucial factor among the clients, partners and investors of large corporations – as well as the consumers who may be influenced by this when making purchasing decisions.

The decision for a business to move to solar power can act as a catalyst, encouraging other businesses to also adopt more eco-friendly practices. Businesses who go solar therefore contribute towards a cultural shift of being more environmentally conscious, which amplifies their social responsibility impact even more. 

International recognition

These days, many organisations around the world recognise businesses demonstrating a commitment to sustainability. These could include accolades such as green building awards, energy innovation awards, industry-specific solar awards, and global sustainability rankings. While the awards vary in nature, they usually acknowledge a business’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions, adopt renewable energy sources, and promote environmentally friendly practices. 

If a commercial business commits to using solar for their business – especially if they’re a multinational company with a global presence – this could mean extra recognition and credibility for the business, which can ultimately benefit their bottom line. 

While a commercial solar installation makes economic sense, especially in South Africa, it also offers environmental and social benefits for the medium and longer term. As businesses adopt a more holistic approach to operating in harmony with their community and the planet as a whole, they contribute to a healthier society and more sustainable way of providing products and services. As consumers evolve, this is going to become even more important in the years to come, which makes solar even more of a consideration for South African businesses. 

Interested in a commercial solar installation for your business? Contact us today.