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Are you trying to decide if a commercial solar system is a good fit for your business? We understand it is a big investment for Gold Coast Businesses. Your trying to manage operational costs, whilst also managing the impact your business is having on the environment. In most cases, commercial solar power offers an attractive return on the investment in relatively short payback periods. 

Energy generated from your solar panels will directly offset energy being purchased from the grid. Immediately, reducing unwanted electricity overheads. Commercial solar panels generate clean power when the sun is shining; businesses that consume most of their electricity during daylight hours are most likely to get the best value from solar. So, if your commercial property has some spare roof space, then going solar is a great option for your business.

 

 

BENEFITS OF COMMERCIAL SOLAR POWER 

In our opinion, solar power is a key business strategic decision that guarantees a solid financial return for your business. Let’s break it down for you though…

Green Reputation // By becoming an environmentally aware , socially responsible business you are providing a visible commitment to the environment by lowering CO2 pollution. 
Bottomline Growth // In most cases the return on the investment with solar is less than 5 years. Creating formidable structure and positive bottom line growth well into the business’ future.  
Reduce Dependency // Hedge against price gauging. Minimising your need to draw from the grid whilst minimising your dependency on the power market. 
Solar Rebates // Several government incentives for solar power including grants and ‘rebates’ are making solar panel investments much more cost effective.  
Low Maintenance // There are no moving parts when it comes to solar, this keeps maintenance costs low. Long warranty periods also offer piece of mind on equipment. 
Valuation Increases // An important part of installing solar is the valuation increase you provide to your capital asset; your building and property. 

In Queensland; in particular Gold Coast and Brisbane commercial properties are generally charged for electricity in one of two ways. 

FLAT RATE TARIFF : is usual for businesses consuming less than 100 megawatt hours (MWh) per year. This rate is based on the amount of energy used (measured in cents per kilowatt hour). You may be charged either at one flat rate all day, or two flat rates: one for the day and another for nights and weekends. In addition to your kilowatt hour (kWh) energy charge you’ll also have a daily fixed charge.

DEMAND TARIFF : is usual for businesses consuming more than 100MWh per year. Your business is charged based on the maximum amount of power used at any one moment (charged in kilowatts or kilovolt-amperes, also known as your peak demand). In addition, you will also have a daily fixed charge and a charge per kilowatt hour of energy you use.

So, in brief, if you are an on-Demand Tariff customer you are considered a ‘large customer’ by your local network Energex, Ergon or Essential Energy. By installing solar power and returning your grid energy usage to below 100 MWH a year you will return to a flat rate tariff and alleviate the burden of excessive on demand connection / usage charges. 

 

COMMERCIAL SOLAR – THE BREAK DOWN

30kW COMMERCIAL SOLAR 

Solar power systems of this size; based on the inverter capacity being 30kw or less fall under the same grid connection guidelines as residential PV systems. Some would go so far as to say that anyone who can install a standard residential system can perform a commercial installation up to 30kw with-out ‘specialist’ knowledge. They would be mistaken! 

There are several reasons why you should procure a company that has commercial installation experience and a vast history of commercial or industrial installations under their belt. The most important is having your system connection application approved by the electricity grid. Unless you have a team with a wealth of experience you may hinder your application if submitted incorrectly or not await the final technical assessment when it comes to exporting all of your excess energy. 

  • String voltage regulations differ from residential to commercial. 
  • Appropriately configured array configurations for inverter efficiency
  • Different installation applications for penetrative and non-penetrative roofs
  • Available metering functions
  • Warranty terms can vary with different commercial panels based on particular installation
  • Plant equipment specialised licensing for use.
  • Occupational Health and Safety Practices
  • Blue Card requirements for installations on buildings much like schools and day care centres
  • Individual site safety procedures and evacuation plans may need to be developed

30kW Commercial solar power systems are becoming increasingly worthwhile for small to medium businesses on the Gold Coast and Brisbane. Payback periods range from 2.5 – 5 years across most of the sunshine state. 

30kW Commercial inverters can be oversized by 133% therefore giving you a panel capacity rating of 39kW. Oversizing the inverter as we suggest optimises energy yield whilst reducing the overall cost of the system. If you have the available roof space, use it, reduce your bottom line by adding more panels!  

It is estimated a 30kW System will generate 120kWh of clean power on average per day, per annum. If consumed 100%; your average savings per month would amount to $2,000. **

 

40kW – 100kW COMMERCIAL SOLAR

As a way to reduce ballooning electricity bills businesses are considering larger solar systems as an investment. There are many additional cost factors that are attributed to commercial solar once the rating of the inverter capacity exceeds 30kW. 

  • Structural Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Grid Protection Equipment
  • Plant equipment 
  • Grid Connect Fees & Charges

Your local network provider whether it be Energex, Ergon or Essential Energy have stringent technical assessment guidelines that must be met prior to the approval for connection of your commercial solar power system. Some wait times exceed 90 days dependant on the application size and type. This is part of the reason why it is critical you engage a commercial solar system installation specialist. 

At 4shore Solar we have a dedicated administration team who understand the fundamental aspects of the grid application process and are the main point of contact whilst the assessment is under review. It is important to mention that during this process the end result will determine whether your solar is approved for full, partial or nil export. Your solar power system should not be installed prior to this process and you are made aware of the grids requirements. 

If you are contemplating a 40kW solar system, do yourself a favour get a few quotations ranging in size well above this. That is if you have the roof space. It will surprise you how comparable pricing can be between the larger systems. 

100kW ++ COMMERCIAL SOLAR 

Installing a system larger than 100kW, means you no longer qualify for the STC ‘rebate’. Don’t worry, if you have under-gone the accreditation process, you’re able to generate Large-Scale Generation Certificates (LGC’s). 

The key difference here is LGC’s are produced on an ongoing basis, as opposed to STC’s which are created upfront.  There is some complexity to this process. 

If your business is spending more than $80,000 per year on electricity, commercial solar may provide you with the necessary relief you require. Think about it, if you can afford to pay an excruciatingly high utility like this; you can afford to pay for solar. By installing a 100kw commercial solar panel system you could potentially be saving between $30,000 - $45,000 per annum. This provision will no doubt improve operating costs and deliver a significant financial benefit.

THE COST OF COMMERCIAL SOLAR

Name a better way to provide consumers with the awareness of business longevity and brand stability then investing in a commercial solar power system. It presents a clear message; you’re not going to ‘close up shop’ anytime soon.  

Any good quality commercial solar panel system installed by a reputable company will on average cost between $1,000 - $1,500 per kW. These system sizes will range between 30kW – 100kW. Solar systems between 10kW – 30kW typically range from $800 - $1,200. Remember though, there are several factors which play a crucial role when it comes to quoting a solar power system. 

  • Your location
  • Your retailer
  • Your installer ( Are they employed inhouse or subcontracted?)
  • Technology
  • System Size
  • Rebates & Incentives
  • Type and Size of Inverter
  • Type and Number of Panels
  • Accessibility
  • Servicing Agreements
  • Engineering Requirements
  • Grid Requirements
  • Roof Structure // Tin, Tile, Concrete
  • Mounting Equipment

Sometimes there can be additional costs that are not accounted for in the quotation when purchasing a solar system. Any good quality company would discuss these additional expenses with you, upfront. 

  • Connection to the electricity grid
  • Upgrading meters within the switchboard
  • Warranty Upgrades
  • Ongoing Maintenance Schedules

THE PROCESS

4shore solar commercial solar the process
 

MONITORING COMMERCIAL SOLAR + BACK TO BASE MONITORING

Solar monitoring is a great way for businesses to understand their PV systems overall performance, energy consumption, grid exports and also alert consumers to fault and error occurrences through live data reporting. It is a great way for business owners to gauge and understand the systems performance but also monitor the energy being consumed by the business. 

At 4shore, we highly recommend purchasing a commercial solar system that has these progressive monitoring capabilities. It keeps you informed, we are able to monitor your system from the comfort of our office and also be alerted to any system errors which may occur, just as you are by email or SMS. This method of monitoring alleviates the risk of receiving a hefty electricity bill because you ‘forgot to check the inverters light was green for go, instead it was red for months and now you’re paying the price!

Most good quality inverters offer the additional function for monitoring at an additional price. We, as always recommend the premium inverter Fronius. The smart meter addition is a bidirectional meter for recording your home and or businesses consumption.  The Fronius Smart Meter presents a clear overview of power consumption and clean energy production. It is a perfect method for co-ordinating management of energy flows whilst optimising energy management. 

Take a look at the example as shown below of a recent 30kW Commercial Solar installation we completed at -- All About Kids Educare on Scottsdale Drive, Varsity Lakes // Gold Coast. 

4shore solar fronius solar web graph

There are various monitoring systems that may be retro-fitted to existing systems or installed on your upcoming solar project, such as Solar Analytics. Sungrow offer a budget friendly monitoring product. Solaredge and Enphase come equipped with the monitoring system ‘ready to go’ as it is a functional requirement of the micro-inverter system. 

Strong internet and wifi signals are required for the everyday function of these devices. A Wifi extender may be required to assist in the performance and connectivity of the product. 

FINANCING COMMERCIAL SOLAR 

Solar Energy allows you to significantly reduce, even eliminate your business’ electricity bills. It is a common myth that a commercial solar system comes with a large upfront cost. For most attractive solar projects the loan repayments will be lower then the energy savings. Allowing businesses to become cash flow positive right from the start!

Pay cash for your solar system

This form of payment will always be the lowest price for a commercial solar system. Paying upfront for your solar installation will deliver the greatest return, that is if you have the available working capital.

* Complete ownership of the system from the initial expenditure.
* GST credits can be claimed on the purchase on quarterly BAS.
* Depreciating asset providing beneficial tax breaks to the business.

Energy Efficiency Loans

Many of Australia’s major banks have Energy Asset Finance programs available to make it easier for businesses to invest in energy-efficient and renewable technologies, helping reduce carbon foot prints, reduce energy use and fuel costs.

These programs offer an attractive incentive for business customers to invest in clean energy assets such as solar valued up to $5 million that meet the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s guidelines. Offering reduced rates as low as 0.70% per annum. We recommend you get in touch with a bank offering these loans prior to investing in a Chattel Mortgage or Business Equipment Loan. 

  • Conserve working capital 
  • GST can be claimed on the purchase on quarterly BAS.
  • Heavy competition between 4 major banks = competitive rates.
  • Detailed payment schedule over course of loan term.
  • Make additional payments without penalty. 

Power Purchase Agreements

Otherwise known as a PPA is an agreement between 2 parties, one which generates electricity (the seller) and one which is looking to purchase electricity (the buyer).

Let’s get this straight, you do not own the system nor are you leasing the solar panels. You are buying power directly from the seller at an agreed-upon rate over a long-term agreement. 

Before investing in a solar system financed in this way we STRONGLY urge you to seek advice from a legal team regarding the contract and have an accountant run the figures. 

There are no standards or specific regulations in the solar industry for PPA contracts and conditions. The few PPA contracts we have been presented by clients for our review and opinion provided to them from major industry retailers were not ideal. So let’s be truthful here, too date we aren’t major fans of this type of agreement!  

Third Party Commercial Finance 

No deposit solar finance options are readily available if you are not interested in using working capital and dealing direct with the mainstream banking sector. Usually, they do not require property as security, registered mortgages, cash flow forecasts and other particulars the big banks would require. 

Often there are multiple loan product types dependant on your financial situation. Chattel Mortgages, Rental Lease and Finance Lease. All of which have particular benefits for the client dependant on the businesses financial requirements. 

Detailed repayment guides can be found on our funding partners websites :

Solar Energy & Finance : Gold Coast Office
Brighte Finance : Sydney Office
Humm Finance : Sydney Office

 

Some recent installations we have completed for savvy green energy businesses :

Burleigh Heads Golf Club // 125kW
All About Kids Educare // 35kW
Essence of Living // 13kW
Dan Purkis Pest Control // 13kW
Legend Products // 15kW
Storage King Tingalpa // 40kW
Storage King Oxenford // 40kW
LSC Shopfitting // 25kW
Addinsall Constructions // Quality Homes Builder
CPD Constructions // Gold Coast Builder


Commercial Solar is a great fit for any business. We all use electricity right? So if you are running lights, computer systems, production machinery, air-conditioning systems or HVAC systems, you can turn to solar. Prioritise offsetting consumption of electricity and make a large solar system beneficial for your business. Creating positive cash flow and bottom-line growth for years to come. 

Choose well, choose a team with a wealth of experience in the commercial solar sector. Don’t be fooled commercial solar is complicated, you need a solar company with a team who actually care and will guide you through the process and be around in the future to assist you with system maintenance procedures and upgrades. Our track record speaks for itself, so does our work! 

Contact us now 

 

Disclaimer // We are not qualified in providing financial advice. The above is a mere introduction into the options available when financing your upcoming solar project. You should seek advice from your business accountant and or lawyer prior to proceeding with any solar power contract.

Posted in: Gold Coast Solar Advice at 30 October 20