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What is C&I Solar?


aerial photograph of rooftop solar panels with text overland 'what is c&I solar?'

In the pursuit of sustainable energy solutions, solar power stands as a beacon, harnessing the sun's unrivaled potential to redefine our energy landscape. The march toward a greener future isn't exclusive to residential rooftops—commercial and industrial (C&I) sectors are making solar a central tenet of their sustainability strategies. This resource explains the basics of C&I solar and its benefits.





C&I Solar Explained

C&I (commercial and industrial) solar refers to solar energy systems designed specifically for commercial and industrial applications. Unlike residential solar arrays, which typically power a single household, C&I solar installations are much larger in scale and are tailored to meet the substantial energy needs of businesses, factories, and other large facilities. These systems can be mounted on rooftops, integrated into building designs, or deployed as ground-mounted arrays, providing a significant portion of an organization’s energy requirements directly from the sun.


C&I Solar vs. Utility Solar

While both C&I solar and utility solar harness the sun's rays to generate electricity, their applications and scale differ significantly. Utility scale-solar systems are vast, often sprawling across acres, and serve the broader electricity grid, supplying power to thousands of homes and businesses. This contrasts with C&I solar, which primarily focuses on supplying electricity directly to specific commercial or industrial facilities. Utility-scale projects are centralized power sources, whereas C&I installations offer decentralized, site-specific solutions. This distinction makes C&I solar a critical pillar in the push towards distributed energy generation, allowing businesses to reduce reliance on grid-supplied power and lower their carbon footprint.


What are the benefits of C&I solar?

Commercial and industrial (C&I) solar emerges as a swiftly expanding sector within the solar industry, driven by businesses and organizations aiming to slash their carbon footprint and lower energy expenses. There are many benefits of solar leasing beyond just delivering cost savings, it has the potential to enhance a company’s sustainability profile and advance progress towards sustainability objectives. 


Cost Savings

By producing their own electricity, commercial and industrial buildings can decrease reliance on the grid and cut utility costs. This is particularly advantageous in regions with fluctuating grid power prices or reliability.


Environmental Benefits

Moreover, commercial and industrial solar power can contribute to lowering carbon emissions and yielding various environmental advantages. Solar energy stands out as a sustainable energy source that produces electricity without any emissions.


Reduces Strain on the Power Grid

Grid instability is an escalating issue nationwide in the United States. A strategic approach to alleviate pressure on the power grid involves expanding the sites where energy is generated within our communities, bringing production closer to consumption points. By increasing the number of locations where energy is produced throughout communities near where the energy is consumed, strain on the power grid is effectively reduced.


Leverages Unused Commercial Spaces

C&I solar installations take advantage of otherwise unused rooftop spaces, putting the power directly into the hands of the businesses and individuals that will be using it, without any visual or physical sacrifice.


Shows a Commitment to Sustainability

With the rise in environmental awareness among consumers, there is a growing preference to support commercial properties that adopt clean energy practices.  Installing C&I solar demonstrates a company's commitment to sustainability, which can help attract new customers and bolster public image.


Financial Benefits

Numerous financial incentives and tax credits exist for commercial and industrial solar installations, aiding in cost reduction. One example is the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Tax benefits vary by jurisdiction, so the location of a commercial and industrial property can significantly impact the expenses associated with a solar initiative.


Leasing Rooftops for Solar

From economic advantages to environmental benefits, C&I solar has emerged as a crucial player in the clean energy movement. As more businesses and organizations turn towards sustainable solutions, C&I solar will continue to be an essential component of their sustainability strategies.


Overall, not only do C&I solar installations relieve strain on the power grid and help reduce the cost of electricity, there is also the immediate financial benefit to the property owners. The operators of a commercial space, such as a shopping mall, can lease their rooftop for solar energy production and offer their renters access to discounted clean energy. This is a tremendous value-add for these property owners, making their businesses financially and environmentally more sustainable. 


Commercial property owners can lease Rooftops for solar energy by listing their properties for lease for free on LandGate's marketplace. Listing is completely free, and there is no obligation to accept any offers that are received through a listing. It starts by creating a free property report on LandGate’s marketplace, which provides commercial property owners with a free lease and capacity estimates:




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