Solar Energy for Commercial Properties
Solar Energy makes great sense for businesses with substantial daytime electricity use . Examples include child care centres, small commercial office towers, and large workshops.
In some cases, commercial properties have electricity bills based on rates as high as 25c/kilowatt-hour (kWh), whilst also paying a penalty for maximum demand, and poor power factor – and a combination of solar power and energy efficiency measures can cut costs substantially and also reduce environmental impact. Solar can help!
→ Independently produced Guide to installing solar PV for business and industry (pdf)
How solar helps businesses save
Using a two way (bidirectional) net electricity meter together with a solar generation system, businesses connected to the grid under net metering get an effective feedin tariff on solar energy at whatever they would have paid for power ( eg 25c/kWh) plus savings on the demand charge. Under the current net-metering arrangement, the advantages can be far better than for households, given the normal higher rate paid by business, as well as the (possible) demand charge savings.
Important not to go too big – or too small
Under the current rules, it’s important when sizing a system for commercial premises that the system is not made too big – this is because the rates for power exported to the grid are not as high as the savings rate when companies avoid paying for electricity from the grid. That is to say, if the concern is purely economic, it is always better to substitute for power from the grid rather than to export it. As a rule of thumb, a kilowatt (kW) of installed solar panels facing north can be expected to generate 4 kWh to 5 kWh/day, on average. We prefer to use the conservative value of 4kWh, although it is true that some systems in our Queensland and Northern NSW portfolio are currently getting higher figures.
Case Study : Burwood Commercial Building
Shown below is a windswept 5kW installation on the roof of an office tower in Burwood, NSW. The system will cover about 20kWh/day. Like similar installations, this site is powering the lift, plant, emergency lighting and carparks. It has been designed to match a third of the total bill, since with existing commercial tariffs the electricity generated by the system is best credited against the daytime usage, rather than trying to cover the whole bill.