Major Stockland investment helps business close gap on commercial solar energy

Solar uptake booming as business closes gap on household installations.

One of Australia’s largest developers has thrown its hat in the solar ring with a $23.5 million investment in commercial solar energy for its chain of shopping centres.

Around 39,000 photovoltaic solar panels will be installed across 10 Stockland retail centres, adding a total capacity of 12.3 MW.

This huge investment by one of Australlia’s largest developers is another sign that business is rapidly closing the gap on households in terms of solar panel installation.

Commercial solar energy installations across Australia soared by 68.6 per cent capacity in 2017 to 242.3 MW, according to Green Energy Markets.

Utility-scale solar rose by 73.3 per cent during the same year. An increase of 50.2 per cent took residential installations to 859.7 MW, the consultancy claims.

Chief Executive of the Smart Energy Council John Grimes told the Sydney Morning Herald that the private sector is backing a multi-billion dollar pipeline of solar projects in NSW. The state is fast becoming a solar hub, he added.

Commercial solar energy uptake viable and sustainable

Investing in solar energy is not just good for the environment, it also makes good business sense for businesses of all sizes.

Commercial solar energy uptake booming as business closes gap on households in terms of solar installations.

Stockland’s Wetherill Park shopping centre is an example of big business making solar installations work for them. Image: Stockland

However, large businesses, chains and corporations are in a particularly good position to optimise returns.

Stockland anticipates returns over the coming decade amounting to 11.6 per cent annually on capital invested.

Commercial solar power is suitable for large businesses because of:

  • Economies of scale. Panel costs are typically lower for large buildings like shopping centres, office blocks and factories.
  • Lower fixed-charge component for business. This makes companies more exposed than households to rising wholesale electricity prices.
  • Primarily daytime power use. Because shopping centres and offices are largely used during the day, companies get maximum returns when the sun is shining.

The solar system at Stockland’s Wetherill Park shopping centre has been operating for more than a year. It has already generated 1.379 million kilowatt-hours of electricity.

This is enough to power 223 homes daily and supplies around a quarter of the centre’s annual power demand.

Western Sydney a growing solar hot spot in NSW

The Western Sydney suburbs of Penrith, Blacktown and Canterbury-Bankstown are also surging ahead in solar uptake.

During a visit to Stockland’s Wetherill Park centre, NSW Energy Minister Don Harwin said small business owners in Western Sydney could save up to $3,570 a year by looking into a solar quote for the installation of a 10 KW rooftop solar system.

In fact, more than 13,600 businesses in NSW have already installed solar energy systems. And a total capacity of more than 600 MW places NSW top of the solar states, Mr Harwin said.