Every day we hear about how the government is trying to fix Australia’s energy crisis, but with coal-fired power plants being shut down and our natural gas being exported, what’s the solution?
One solution is solar power which has slowly been gaining ground over the past few years. To cut costs, it is estimated that already around 25% of residential homes make use of solar power to augment their electricity usage and reduce their power bills.
Meanwhile, the commercial sector has been slower to respond to solar energy, but as Cola Solar owner Tony Ruff reports, Australian companies are now more than ever before, embracing solar energy. This has resulted in a 400% increase in installations over the past three years.
In fact during 2018 alone, Ruff estimates that the solar industry will install so many solar panels that it will cover around 10% of all commercial daily energy requirements. Cola Solar have installed a number of large scale commercial solar projects including Bendigo City Council, Macedon Ranges Shire Council, Hume & Iser and Bayford Ford.
Costs down, solar energy up!
The rising costs of energy across Australia and the falling installation costs of solar systems have been the main drivers of commercial solar uptake, says Tony Crabb, National Director of Research at Cushman & Wakefield who are commercial real estate agents.
The investment from businesses in solar power can be massive, as take for example, QIC (one of the largest fund managers in Australia) who have recently invested $200 million from the CEFC (Clean Energy Finance Corporation) to reduce their carbon footprint and improve the energy usage in their stores.
Clearly, from a business point of view, solar energy now makes good business sense and is often installed by commercial companies to reduce their overheads, as well as environmental reasons.
For example, the break-even point for solar is usually 4 to 5 years, so currently a $350,000 commercial installation, providing 250kWh on an 1800 metre square rooftop would save a business around $80,000 a year. With a lifespan of 25 to 30 years, it won’t be long before this size business will see a consistent $45 per square metre profit for the life of the system.
Solar farms are also big business in Australia, mainly due to the costs of installations dropping and the cost per kilowatt becoming more affordable. As these farms multiply, the costs will drop even further and become much more affordable for both residential home owners and commercial businesses.
Rise in smart buildings
In response to more affordable solar energy and a rapid increase in technology, we will start to see more smart homes and commercial buildings in our landscape. The Copenhagen International School in Denmark is a good example of using smart solar technology, showcasing an entire façade of solar panels.
Another good example is the Luxaflex manufacturing plant in Sydney, which has recently installed more than 2000 panels on its roof, becoming the largest installation of Sunpower P19 panels in the world. As solar technology continues to improve and become even more affordable over the next few years, we can expect to see more and more commercial buildings on-board solar energy as part of their ongoing business model.
Resolving our energy crisis might be a big ask, but the increase in smart buildings that reduce their energy usage and maximise the generation of renewable energy is definitely a step in the right direction.
For more information on installing solar power on your commercial buildings, call us on 1300 374 357 or request a free consultation and quote.