Each year, food waste in the restaurant industry reaches losses that are in the billions. And, while there are multiple points of waste throughout the food supply chain, imagine if it were possible to limit losses due to power outages. What would it mean for a restaurant’s bottom line to keep refrigerators, freezers, ice machines and display coolers running during power outages? For standalone restaurant locations to caterers to food halls to drive-thrus, even food co-packers and storage facilities, solar power could significantly reduce, if not altogether avoid, this problem for restaurants.
Solar power is often overlooked by businesses because it is so closely tied to homeownership, but it shouldn’t be because it can help every restaurant reduce its dependence on the grid. Quite simply, solar panel rooftops create electricity that can be used, stored, even potentially be resold. How much electricity can be made is based on a series of factors, but solar power works even in the rain or when cloudy. Solar panels can also be easily added to existing rooftops without disrupting day-to-day business. Even drive-thrus can continue operations while solar panels are added because the installation is as basic a process as laying new roof tiles or shingles.
Below are four potential ways solar power can help your restaurant’s bottom line:
1. Potentially Save on Monthly Electric Bills
Solar power creates electricity that you can use to run your restaurant. The amount of electricity generated will differ for each location, but in some cases, excess could be produced, giving you the chance to sell it back to the grid. While utility companies won’t cut a check for excess energy produced by your restaurant, they may credit your electric bill. And, there is the potential long-term savings once your payments to the solar financing company end. In effect, all of the energy your restaurant rooftop creates will be produced for free.
2. Protection During Power Outages
The savings from this solar power opportunity could be the most significant. Because the electricity generated by the panels can be stored in batteries, it is possible to keep power going when the grid goes down. That means refrigerators, freezers, ice machines, chilled service areas, and other electric-operated food storage or displays, can be protected during a power outage caused by the grid. The savings from batteries has the potential of being huge toward your bottom line.
3. Federal Solar Tax Credit
Through 2022, there is a 26-percent federal tax credit available for eligible businesses in the tax year filing in which they have begun the process of installation. It drops to 22 percent in 2023 and after that, it drops to 10 percent. The federal tax credit can be applied on top of other incentives that may be provided by states or local governments.
4. Community Relations
Restaurants with solar panels have the opportunity to share their sustainability commitment by actually pointing to it! Train your staff on how it works so they can communicate this powerful message to your customers. Solar power gives you another meaningful way to establish and strengthen your impact on the community.
Solar power is a win all around for restaurants because it creates opportunities to potentially save in a few different ways on the bottom line while reinforcing your leadership role with your employees and in the cities where you work.