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Powering Profits Through Sustainability: Making the Switch to Renewable Energy

With climate change accelerating, consumers and stakeholders increasingly expect companies to operate sustainably. Switching to renewable energy solutions lets your Australian business reap bottom line benefits while showcasing environmental commitment. This guide explores practical strategies for adopting clean technologies to power profits through sustainability.

Key Takeaways

  • Renewables like solar, wind and batteries reduce electricity costs 30-60%
  • Clean energy enhances brand reputation and meets emission reduction mandates
  • Start with an energy audit and efficiency upgrades to optimise system sizing
  • Evaluate onsite solar and wind versus offsite renewable energy purchasing
  • Add storage to maximise solar usage and minimise demand charges
  • Understand project timelines, grid interconnection needs and hidden costs
  • Model different ownership options - purchase, lease or solar PPA
  • Phase in renewables across facilities over time to balance cost vs. ROI
  • Promote sustainability improvements internally and through certification

The Business Case for Renewable Energy Adoption

Leveraging clean energy offers multiple advantages:

Cost Competitiveness - Solar, wind and other renewables now compete favourably with fossil fuels on price.

Energy Independence - Produce your own power rather than buying from the grid.

Price Stability - Insulate your business from utility rate hikes for decades.

Reduced Emissions - Contribute to corporate emission reduction mandates through clean energy.

Enhanced Reputation - Eco-conscious consumers increasingly favour sustainable brands.

Marketing Appeal - Achieve recognition for renewable adoption through certification programs.

Resilience - On-site generation means energy security if the grid goes down.

Government Incentives - Tax breaks and rebates improve ROI on renewable investments.

Start With an Energy Efficiency Audit

Before exploring renewables, an energy audit identifies energy savings potential from optimising use patterns, HVAC, lighting, building envelope and other systems. Efficiency upgrades right-size renewable systems, maximising their impact. Audits also screen sites for renewal viability.

Compare Onsite Versus Offsite Options

Evaluate generating or purchasing renewable energy:

Onsite - Systems like rooftop solar or small wind located at your facilities. Requires upfront capital but provides greater control and cost benefits long-term.

Offsite Purchasing - Buy renewable power from dedicated offsite projects through options like power purchase agreements (PPAs) requiring little or no upfront investment.

Community Renewables - Participate in shared local renewable developments through energy cooperatives or crowd-funding.

Renewable Energy Certificates - Purchase certificates representing clean energy generation to offset non-renewable consumption.

Adding Battery Storage

Combining solar PV or wind with lithium-ion batteries brings multiple advantages:

  • Store excess renewable output during low demand to avoid wastage
  • Discharge batteries to smooth evening demand spikes to minimise time-of-use and demand charge costs
  • Enhance renewable usage and value - optimise self-consumption
  • Provide emergency backup power during grid outages

Model cost savings from storage against expenses to determine ideal battery capacity.

Understanding the Project Process

To ensure success, factor project timelines, utility coordination needs and hidden costs:

  • Plan for permitting, site assessments and grid interconnection application lead times.
  • Anticipate any required utility distribution upgrades to manage added renewable power flows.
  • Budget for infrastructure like inverters, control systems, mounting equipment and wiring.
  • Account for ongoing operations and maintenance - panels and batteries require care.

Financial Modelling

Detailed modelling is key to determine ROI and ideal system sizing based on current energy spend:

  • Project bill savings based on the percentage of consumption different technologies can offset.
  • Calculate total capital costs and available incentives like Commercial Solar Rebates and depreciation.
  • Compare financing options like direct purchase, solar leases/PPAs and managed services models.
  • Understand ongoing costs for maintenance, repairs, and component replacement over the asset lifetime.

Phased Implementation

An incremental approach balances costs, risks and quick returns:

  • Start with onsite solar PV on unused roof or land space to offset some consumption immediately.
  • Next, add storage to increase solar usage and manage demand charges.
  • Then expand with ground mount solar, wind systems, community renewables investments or larger offsite PPAs.

Promoting Sustainability Improvements

To showcase commitment, invest in measurement, reporting and communication:

  • Track renewable energy production, cost savings and emission reductions over time.
  • Secure GreenPower certification or submit for sustainability awards.
  • Issue press releases announcing major renewable milestones.
  • Share renewable adoption success stories on your website and social media.
  • Motivate staff by posting renewable performance dashboards internally.

Conclusion

The switch to renewable energy is a sound business move beyond its environmental merits. Take an informed, phased approach tailored to your facilities and finances. Supported by energy audit insights and financial modelling, clean energy adoption can transform your cost structure while enabling your company to operate more sustainably. Lead by example - a renewable future calls Australian businesses to action.

FAQs

How much can solar PV reduce my electricity costs?

Commercial solar typically offsets 30-60% of consumption. Combined with storage, energy cost reductions of 50-75% are possible.

What are examples of offsite approaches to procuring renewable energy?

Options include solar/wind PPAs, purchasing renewable energy certificates, investing in community solar/wind projects, and negotiating green supply contracts.

What expertise should I leverage to ensure a successful project?

Engage consultants combining engineering, project management and financial modelling skills specific to commercial-scale renewable energy systems and storage.

How can I motivate employees around sustainability initiatives?

Frequent communication of progress and results using dashboards builds buy-in. Tie bonuses and recognition to sustainability KPIs.

Where can I learn more about available subsidies and renewable energy incentives?

Clean Energy Regulator, Smart Energy Council, Energy Matters and state programs detail current assistance for Australian organisations.

Conclusion: With sound strategies and planning, the switch to renewable energy can strengthen both sustainability cred and the bottom line. Savvy Australian businesses are realising integrating solar, wind, storage and more cuts costs substantially while showcasing much-needed climate commitment.

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