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Sun sets on high energy bills as solar goes mainstream

Supplier: Solar Power Australia
08 December, 2011

Australia’s climate makes it ideal for the adoption of solar power, but until now many people have been content to pay their ever-increasing energy bill and ignore the alternatives.

That is now changing, and Australian businesses and homes are beginning to wake up and change their attitude to solar power.

Depending on which state of Australia you live in, and which supplier you use, your electricity bill will have risen between 25 and 40 per cent in the past three years, according to figures from the Queensland government’s Department of Mines and Energy.

Furthermore the cost of coal-fired power is only going in one direction, up, and you can expect your electricity bill to rise another 40 per cent in the next three years, an alarming thought, or at least it should be.

Despite the recent huge electricity cost increases, many companies and individuals have still not investigated alternative energy solutions, in particular the obvious one – solar – considering the sunburnt country in which we live.

According to Joanne Jarvie, Commercial Manager at Solar Power Australia, a leading Australian solar company, attitudes are changing, but have been slow in doing so.

Solar Power Australia designs, supplies and installs highly efficient and cost effective crystalline solar modules, which provide reliable and environmentally clean electric power on-grid and off-grid for residential, commercial, industrial and utility scale applications throughout Australia.

"In the past cost would definitely have been the main stumbling block for most businesses to invest in solar. Now, however, with the price of solar components decreasing, there’s no reason why companies wouldn’t invest in solar," Jarvie told IndustrySearch.

"My guess is they look at the upfront cost and think it’s easier to just keep paying their ever increasing energy bills. What they may not be considering is that it’s an investment which can make them at least partially immune to rising energy costs, and definitely reduce their power bills."

Even if you still have concerns about the initial costs, Jarvie says businesses should not be put off investigating solar further, as Solar Power Australia has a number of different options to help companies overcome this initial hurdle.

On top of which, solar power should be viewed as an investment, Jarvie says, with a payback period less than you might expect.

"The payback period on a large commercial system would be around 10 years. A residential system is currently around 5 years," Jarvie says.

"Given that the warranty period with respect to power output on our solar panels continues for 25 years, this is a great investment."

While solar power may not necessarily be a solution for everyone, there are some simple guidelines any business can follow to establish whether it is right for them – Jarvie explains.

"Businesses need to look at their average daily energy usage and the rate they are being charged for shoulder and peak periods. These are the costs that can be offset by solar power and we can size a solar system accordingly," she said.

"Certainly factories that are running all day or any business that has high energy usage during the day will benefit from solar power."

Solar doesn’t work well if the roof of a building is completely in shadow for most of the day. If a roof is completely shaded by trees or adjacent buildings, Jarvie says Solar Power Australia wouldn’t recommend solar panels.

"(We) have a solution for intermittent and partial shading though, as well as roofs that don’t have the correct orientation, so we are able to offer a solution to customers who had previously thought solar was not an option for them," Jarvie says.

Solar Power Australia has been involved in some of the most iconic solar installations in Australia, from the solar lighting system on the Northern Breakwater at Stockton, NSW, to large grid-feed systems on the Victoria and Bond universities, as well as a trailer-mounted system for the CSIRO Telescope and a remote solar system for the Bonaparte Gas Pipeline in the Northern Territory.

But your application doesn’t need to match the aforementioned projects for scale for Solar Power Australia to come up with a solution that is right for you. The company has installed systems for residential, commercial and industrial customers, both small and large scale.

"We particularly specialise in custom designed products. We design, build and install solar-powered products specific to our customers’ needs," Jarvie says.

"Some of these include portable solar powered lighting skids, solar power trailers for lighting, communication and monitoring equipment, and remote power systems.

"We don’t just use whatever cheap panels and inverters are currently on the market – we source high quality, high efficiency products that give our customers the best result."

Not only the best result, but an end-to-end service as well. Solar Power Australia will not only install your system, but complete all the paperwork and organise connection to the grid. All you need to do is make the decision to save money on your power bill, from there they will guarantee you are getting the system you need, that performs how it should. It really is that simple.

According to Jarvie, the future of solar power is bright, not only as people increasingly wake up to the obvious benefits, but as the technology continues to get smarter and smarter.

"Solar power has a big part to play in Australia, particularly given that we have the highest average solar radiation per square metre of any continent in the world," Jarvie says.

"We really need to take advantage of this free resource. The carbon tax also plays a part in the solar power story in Australia. As costs increase for energy intensive industries, they really need to think seriously about renewables to counter these costs.

"There’s still plenty of research going on in solar and I think we’ll see lots of new technology in the future. Australia still hasn’t embraced Building-Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) yet, so that could form part of future developments in solar power.

"BIPV increases the solar offering as the cost replaces the cost of materials that would otherwise have been used, yet these materials are working for you the entire time."

The message then is clear. Solar is not a fad and it will save you money. As surely as the price of coal-powered electricity will rise, so will the capabilities of solar power. The time for solar is now.