How Do Solar Panels Impact Commercial Property Risks?
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You might have been approached or be considering adding solar panels to your commercial building and wondering how do solar panels Impact commercial property risks? Across Canada, renewable energy in the form of solar panels are becoming increasingly prevalent in recent years. More and more businesses are adding solar panels to their commercial property.
In fact, according to a Risk Insights by Zywave, “businesses and residential properties across Canada have utilized these systems for decades, and there’s no indication that the current trend for living greener is about to decline any time soon. However, if you’re considering utilizing solar energy for your business, there are several risks to keep in mind when deciding whether a PV (photovoltaic) system is right for your company.”1
How Do Solar Panels Benefit A Commercial Property?
“In some jurisdictions, those who are able to contribute some of the energy that is stored in their PV systems back to the original grid can actually earn some of their money back. In other words, a PV system has the potential to pay itself off in an average of 20 years.”2
“There are a number of benefits from using solar energy, including saving money on electricity and reducing your carbon footprint. But there is also a high cost for installation and a few safety and operational risks involved.”3
Common Health and Safety Risks For Commercial Property
If your commercial property has or is considering installing solar panels electrical safety and working at heights are some of the most common risks. Some considerations include:
- “Any time a job calls for work at height, consider whether it is absolutely necessary. Work at height is one of the top reasons workers get injured on the job. With PV systems, work at height is not always required. If your space permits, consider installing the PV system at ground level. This will help keep employees safe from injuries related to work at height upon installation of the system, as well as during any routine maintenance.
- In the event of an interruption to a required power source, it is common practice to shut off all power sources within a building. However, if you have a PV system, this may be difficult since it gets its energy from sunlight. Therefore, extra caution must be taken and PV systems must always be treated as live. Ensure that all employees who work on the PV system have attended proper training.”4
“Another major health hazard from solar panels is exposure to toxic chemicals such as cadmium telluride, copper indium diselenide and copper indium gallium selenide. Exposure can happen during manufacture, transport, storage and disposal of solar panels. If your company is involved in any of these processes, make sure you have a plan in place to protect your employees from exposure to toxic chemicals.”5
How Do Solar Panels Impact Commercial Property Risks – Operational Risks and Challenges
In addition to complying to relevant building regulations, consider the weight of panels, this can be a significant addition to the supporting structure. “After installation, businesses that use solar panels to generate electricity should prepare themselves to address the following potential roadblocks:
- Low amount of sunlight available
- Energy storage issues
- Relatively low efficiency
- Shortage of materials, especially silicon”6
It is also notable that “many risks that affect construction projects also apply to solar panels, and include the following:
- Changing regulations
- Environmental damage
- Liability from construction errors
- Market factors such as rate variations and panel manufacture
- Sabotage and theft
Prior to committing to a photovoltaic system…assess all operational, health and safety risks that arise when installing and using solar energy, and…create a plan to reduce those risks.”7
Need Advice on Renovating Your Commercial Property? We Can Help.
If you are installing solar panels, making changes to your commercial property or contemplating property risks, our experts can uncover a variety of options. We understand the latest products and risk management techniques and can line up the best commercial property coverage options. Our ALIGNED insurance brokers can help you get a commercial property insurance quote that protects your bottom line.
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1-7 Adapted from Risk Insights © 2014 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved. This Risk Insights is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice.