Manufacturing is the backbone of many global economies and it’s definitely a big part of South Carolina’s economy. Manufacturing is also a huge energy hog, accounting for one-third of total energy use worldwide. About 75% of that is used to make energy-intensive products such as metals, chemicals, pulp and paper.

Some manufacturing sectors are more ‘ripe’ for solar energy than others, particularly in South Carolina. This is the first in a series of blogs that focus on specific segments of South Carolina’s manufacturing industry and the benefits of solar energy, starting with chemicals.

At first glance, you might not think that solar would be viable for chemical manufacturing, since many processes require extremely high temperature levels for the most common applications—boiling and distilling. Generating that kind of heat requires a large land area for the solar panels and has, historically, involved high capital investments.

However, more than 90% of all manufactured goods involve chemistry, and low- and medium-heat requirements account for nearly 50% of total industrial process heat. Considering the magnitude of the chemical industry’s total energy consumption, suddenly solar is an option worth evaluating, especially in South Carolina.

South Carolina is home to more than 50 chemical manufacturers that producer everything from agrochemicals to inks and industrial lubricants. The state’s roster boasts not only large multinational companies such as BP, DuPont, 3M, BASF, Milliken, Lubrizol and Cytec, but a long list of state and regional firms such as Chemsolv, Carolina Eastern, Palmetto Synthetics and New Life Chemical.

We’re seeing an interesting twist in recent years with chemical manufacturers and solar energy. Companies are installing large commercial photovoltaic solar system primarily to generate power they can sell back to their local utilities and reduce their overall carbon footprint.

Whether you want to cut your manufacturing costs by slashing electricity expenses, create revenue streams by selling electricity back to your local utility company, or both, there’s never been a better time to do it in South Carolina. Here are 7 reasons why:

1. South Carolina is among the top 20 states in the country for continuous sunshine.
2. The federal government provides a generous 35% investment tax credit for commercial solar projects.
3. South Carolina offers a tax credit of $3,500, or 50% of each commercial facility’s tax liability for that taxable year, whichever is less, and excess credits can be carried forward.
4. State loan programs are available to offset the cost of a solar installation.
5. Investor-owned utility companies in South Carolina are required to offer a net metering service to their renewable energy customers.
6. The average price of a completed commercial photovoltaic project has dropped by more than 45 percent since 2012 and incentives can cover up to two-thirds of the cost.
7. Commercial solar can provide an ROI of 15% or higher.

And there’s the environment. Solar energy enables chemical companies to be part of the growing ‘green marketing’ movement, something that would have been unheard of for most of them just a few years ago.

Learn more about how solar can be a sound investment for your corporate portfolio, and social responsibility and sustainment initiatives. Call Inman Solar now for a free bill analysis.