Nearly half of South Australia’s small-to-medium businesses are considering investing in solar energy to reduce operating costs.
That’s the finding of BDO Australia’s 4th annual State Business Survey, which provides a snapshot of business sentiment for 2017.
The survey ran during July and August, covering 130 SA businesses across the major industry sectors.
Most enterprises are optimistic about the potential of their businesses to succeed. But many feel hamstrung by rising business costs and state taxes.
Energy pricing topped the list of concerns for South Australian SMEs, with 47 per cent of respondents saying rising costs were either slowing growth or preventing investment.
Rising energy costs spark investing in solar energy
This uncertainty has prompted a wave of investment in off-grid technologies. The survey found two-in-five businesses would invest in solar or wind power and battery storage to safeguard their operations. Of those businesses, 42 per cent would spend up to $50,000 to install such measures.
The superstorm event of late 2016 that plunged South Australia into darkness has led to many businesses investing in their own power generation, rather than rely on the state grid.
As one manufacturer told the survey, “We have a company installing solar panels to our factory that will save us about $4K per year.”
Another owner said the state government had botched energy planning through short-sighted and poorly-conceived policies.
This view was echoed, with 46 per cent of respondents believing cuts to state taxes would be of greater value than policies to reduce energy costs.
Twelve per cent said energy costs were increasing the likelihood of leaving the state entirely.
Energy consumption set to rise, business must adapt: BDO
Commenting on the survey results, BDO said lowering energy costs was vital to stimulating South Australia’s economy and attracting investment.
Energy consumption is on the rise, and the emergence of electric vehicles and automated technologies would put pressure on power supplies.
With high power prices compared to the rest of the world, it makes sense for local businesses to invest in solar and solar energy storage to reduce costs.
However, more solar, wind and storage would put added pressure on an already strained electricity network. In the long term, maintaining and improving the grid must become a priority for government.