Some Australian businesses installing commercial scale solar power systems can now source electricity cheaper than from the mains grid.
Quoting figures from AGL, The Australian states the number of commercial scale solar installations has jumped from 550 in the first four months in 2012 to 1,460 in the same period this year.
The reason for the jump isn’t so much to do with the environmental aspect, which can have benefits in terms of customer perception; but more to do with bottom line results.
“The cost of buying solar is now cheaper than buying from the grid, even with zero subsidies,” says UBS utilities analyst David Leitch.
Australian commercial solar installer Energy Matters says if businesses are paying more than 20c/kWh for daytime electricity consumption, a system sized to generate equivalent to that consumption will provide a payback time of between 5 and 7 years; “after which time, the electricity you generate is essentially free”.
Also a significant player in the residential solar sector, Energy Matters’ commercial arm installs systems for businesses, schools and community organisations across Australia from 20 kilowatts to 1 megawatt capacity.
Energy Matters recently announced it was commencing work on a 290kW solar power system for foodservice giant Bidvest; which will be one of the largest purely privately funded solar installations in Australia.
Commercial scale solar arrays still represent a significant capital investment, “so it is important to know what you are buying and from whom,” says Energy Matters; which offers a free commercial solar guide to assist businesses discern value-for-money proposals from sales spin.
“Undertaking research and asking the right questions will help businesses make the best investment decision and maximise the benefits of a commercial solar array for decades to come.”