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Energy Insights

There's a Better Way to Buy Solar

In 2019, renewable energy made up almost a quarter of Australia’s total energy generation – the highest of any year to date. A significant driver of this demand is the uptake of solar energy. Businesses and households alike continue to buy and install rooftop solar as more people chart a course towards net zero emissions. This is expected to continue apace.

Australia has the highest uptake of residential solar energy globally, with almost 2.5 million homes now having rooftop solar nationwide. The number of businesses installing solar is growing too. Energy Action meter data shows that there has been substantial growth in uptake of onsite generation, including rooftop solar, across it's client sites under management from only a few years ago.

Putting Net Zero into action

The quest for net zero emissions is now firmly on the minds of Australian businesses. In fact, a survey conducted by Energy Action in March this year showed that four in five businesses across the country agree that they need to take action on climate change.

However, just under one in four said they were actually incorporating net zero initiatives into their business energy strategy1 . Those that have were driven by a combination of government support, cost savings and stakeholder demand.

The use of solar energy generated through a rooftop system produces no direct carbon emissions and has formed a core part of many businesses’ net zero strategies. Furthermore, there are untapped opportunities for others to follow in their footsteps.

Driving better outcomes in the solar market

Despite growing demand to buy solar for business, there are a range of barriers that can prevent businesses from making a good decision. The commercial solar market has matured rapidly, accompanied by an influx of solar engineering procurement construction (solar EPC) providers entering the market. Navigating a plethora of options has tested some buyers’ market knowledge and slowed decision-making, and in some cases, eroded trust.

The first step is ensuring that the sizing of the system is optimised for the roof space and load. Doing this effectively relies on quality data, particularly to maximise the return on investment and avoid over-capitalising. This can include identifying the right components for the right price and the Clean Energy Council certifies solar componentry into quality tiers, which can help make it simpler to compare components and warranties.

“Obtaining an accurate and independent sizing and performance specification means that buyers can compare apples with apples when it comes to evaluating offers from suppliers,” says Energy Action’s Chief Executive Officer, John Huggart.

Energy Action has identified a range of solar EPC providers that can provide high-quality systems to a consistent standard. To distinguish between the top providers and those that are still developing a track record, businesses should seek assistance from a knowledgeable partner like Energy Action.

“Energy Action understands the solar EPC market and works with providers that deliver great projects every day, whether in particular regions or nationwide. It’s important to get it right, because poorly delivered projects can put your facility at risk.”

To ensure that those who buy solar have a highly transparent view of the solar market, and can make an educated decision about the quality and price of their optimal system, Energy Action has just launched the Energy Action Solar Auction.

“The market demand for solar is surging, and more businesses are seeing the benefits. That’s why we introduced an innovative solution that will maximise the investment in solar and de-risk the process. Ultimately, our role is to remove the friction from the transaction to deliver a better outcome. We explain the energy costs, emission reduction opportunities and project risk. We link our clients to high-quality suppliers, and then we create a marketplace where competitive bidding can drive the price down.” Mr Huggart says.

The Energy Action Solar Auction uses technology to model the optimal on-site solar system and requirements, and invites bids from a panel of more than 15 top solar EPC providers. Businesses can run their solar system procurement process end-to-end through an online portal, and can select their preferred contract.

In an environment where reducing carbon emissions and energy costs is now the expectation of every company board, on-site solar generation can play a crucial role. But navigating the market isn’t always easy.

For businesses weighing up the best options for quality and price, you can find out more information here.

 [1] Energy Action online client survey, March 2020

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