Local business gets smart with solar

Solar solutions

The Daily Advertiser, 30th September 2013

As electricity costs rise many local businesses and organisations are getting ahead of the game by installing commercial solar panel systems on their roofs.

While household solar systems can generate from two to five kilowatts (kW) of electricity for the family, commercial systems can produce between 10 and 200 kW, depending on the roof space (or ground space) that is available. Solar is often a good fit for businesses, particularly if much of their power use happens during the day.

Solar Wise Wagga has installed systems on businesses ranging from an ice works in Cootamundra to a roadhouse in Lockhart.

"Businesses are a great fit for solar power as they use most of their power during the day when solar generation is at its peak. Basically they feed the solar power direct to their workshop or office," Solar Wise Managing Director, Alex Manley said.

Like other installers, Alex has seen a steady increase in commercial installations as the prices of solar systems have reduced by 80% and the price of electricity has soared.

One of the largest PV systems in Wagga has been installed at the Rules Club as a part of the Solar in Clubs program of Clubs Australia. The 76 kW system reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 130 tonnes a year and will make significant savings to the club’s electricity bills.

"The solar panels were part of our commitment to our environmental goals inspiring other businesses and residents to follow our lead," Club Manager Jack Jolley said.

Manager of Foodworks at the Lake Albert Shopping Centre, Rod Porter, also sees the business logic of solar and installed a 45kW system at his  supermarket.

“I can only see the cost of electricity going up in future and this is a practical way to get some control over costs,” Rod said. 

To make sure that the business takes full advantage of the new system, Foodworks has also changed from old style lighting to modern LED globes which they expect will save a further $1400 on power bills.

Using a different approach, local group, Climate Rescue of Wagga (CROW) is establishing the Riverina Community Solar Farm. This will be a group of small local shareholders who will install and manage a 80 to 100kW solar system that sells the generated electricity to the ‘host’ business where the panels are installed.

This approach is an innovation that is taking off in many places around Australia and, indeed, across the world. Not only does it help drive the shift to clean, renewable energy, it ensures that energy profits stay with small local investors and directly benefit the local economy, rather than lining the pockets of large, multinational companies.