The historical business concern with solar has been the lack of efficiency at night and the need to rely on the grid for energy during the hours of darkness. Technology, however, has moved on.
The City of Sydney just implemented an energy efficiency plan that is saving the council $800,000 per year. It is now working towards a renewable future for Sydney with the aim for a 70% reduction of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. A large focus of the future plan is around solar energy.
During a recent City of Sydney talk on renewables, Allan Jones, UK energy and climate change expert, who was appointed by the City of Sydney to help reduce emissions, told guests that solar is coming down in price and black coal is going up. He said that, “in the next couple of years, solar will be competing with black coal in market value”. He pointed out that the cost of coal isn’t purely financial, “40% of asthma sufferers go to hospital with coal related issues”. Statistics like that are enough to make us reassess the health impact of fossil fuels.
The demand for solar energy is increasing. In 2007 Australia had just 8,000 solar panels, the figure now stands at around 2 million, with 10% of the country’s homes now being powered by solar. The figure is not surprising when the sun’s energy has the potential to power the planet 10,000 times over and the current renewables market in Australia has the capacity to provide the country with 10 times the energy required.
So what kind of solar technology is currently available to us and how can we reduce our ever-increasing fuel bills?
Technological developments have overcome the daylight limitation challenge with better thermal storage. Additionally, the power feed is now able to remain active when grid power is lost, during bushfires and floods for example. With the rapidly changing climate, power outages are a growing concern for Australian businesses, with the threat of lost profit or, worse still, jeopardising medical supplies and putting patients lives at risk.
New technology offers energy solutions that incorporate small battery banks. The battery banks allow solar panels to continue powering the business when the grid fails. Additionally, the battery takes over at night or when there is insufficient sun. The result is clean, continuous solar power under any conditions. This technology can also provide a revenue source, by providing excess solar power to the grid during the day and taking advantage of local feed in tariffs.
Solar is just one solution in the energy efficiency puzzle. An energy services company (ESCO) will look at the entire energy usage of a business, addressing areas such as building energy waste and inefficient equipment. Robin Archibald, COO of Ecosave, says, “The benefit of using an ESCO to assess and implement solutions is that the outcome will be fit for purpose and performance is assured. A good ESCO will assess all aspects of buildings and operations to design a suite of solutions that maximises savings and efficiency. It will also provide a guarantee of the savings and offer funding solutions where access to CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) is limited.”
Ecosave is proud to have supported City of Sydney in its emissions reduction programme. For more information on Ecosave’s solutions please call 1300 55 77 64.