Businesses can reduce their energy bills by installing a renewable energy system and generating more of the power they consume.
Peak power prices, during hot summer days, can be several times the average electricity price charged at “non-peak” times. However, most businesses operate during the typical peak power periods (i.e. middle of hot summer’s day), and this makes renewable energy generation viable and potentially profitable.
How to do it now!
There is a growing array of energy generation options available to SMEs. The key is to understand your energy needs and explore a renewable energy generation mix that complements your energy, heating and cooling needs while also being cheaper and cleaner than your current energy arrangements.
With good advice and an astute understanding of your needs there are often many advantages in generating your own power.
Use the financial support that the Government provides to SMEs
The Federal Government’s Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) is available to SMEs to help fund the cost of installing renewable energy assets.
“The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme creates a financial incentive for owners to install eligible small-scale installations such as solar water heaters, heat pumps, solar panel systems, small-scale wind systems, or small-scale hydro systems. It does this by legislating demand for Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs). STCs are created for these installations according to the amount of electricity they produce or displace. RET Liable entities have a legal requirement to buy STCs and surrender them on an quarterly basis.”
See the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme page for more information about this program and your eligibility to use it to part fund your renewable energy investment.
The essential information is that this program provides financial support to businesses for the installation of the following renewable energy generation technologies:
And the following heat generation technologies:
Install a renewable energy system
Install solar photo voltaic (PV) panels, small-scale wind or hydro systems at your workplace.
For SMEs that own their own building, the simplest way to generate your own electricity is to have an electrician install Solar PV panels on your roof, an inverter on your wall, and wire your system into the grid. For businesses with more specialist sites, (i.e. a farm) small-scale wind and even hydro could be the best power source.
There are four elements involved in installing a grid-connected renewable energy system in Australia. These are:
Often the renewable energy system installer will facilitate all of these elements.
1. Finding the right renewable energy system installer.
The Clean Energy Council (CEC) has a complete list of Accredited Solar Photovoltaic system installers on their website.
Use the following list of questions to guide you when you are speaking to a prospective installer for your renewable energy system:
◾ the estimated annual production.
◾ the estimated production in the best and worst months
◾ the responsibilities of each party.
◾ warranties and guarantees, including installer workmanship.
◾ a schedule of deposit and progress payments.
2. Selecting the right renewable energy system for your business.
Ensure the renewable energy system is the right size for your business - The size of your renewable energy system will depend on: ◦ the physical unshaded space available for the installation of your PV modules or access to wind or water if installing micro-turbines.
If your goal is to provide enough energy to run all your electrical appliances all year round, then you need to know your business electricity use for the year. This is measured in KWh and is documented on your quarterly electricity bill. From this figure you can calculate your average daily electricity consumption: that is, the amount your PV system needs to produce (on average) to cover your electricity needs.
3. Receiving financial support from the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme.
The Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme is a Federal Government initiative to support businesses to install renewable energy systems. The scheme can provide financial support of up to $6,200. Many retailers selling and installing solar panels will include or manage the application and receipt of this financial support, as part of their service.
Learn more about the scheme at the Australian Government's Office of Renewable Energy Regulator website. See the Rebates and assistance page for more details.
4. Establishing an electricity trading agreement with your electricity retailer.
Once you have priced the purchase and installation of your renewable energy system, and know what the likely electricity generation will be, it's time to select and sign up with an energy retailer who will buy your electricity. Note that not all retailers provide this service, so check carefully!
Things to check on and compare when agreeing to sell your clean electricity to an electricity retailer are:
Check with your installer which electricity retailer offers the best deals, understand the mandatory feed-in tariffs that might apply in your state and get advice on dealing with electricity retailers.
Feed-in tariffs are payments/credits from power companies to businesses for the renewable electricity they generate (e.g. solar photovoltaic system or wind turbine). For more details on each state's feed-in tariff scheme visit the following websites:
Why is this action important?
In a business context of rising energy costs, investing in your own energy generation capability provides you with more control and certainly about your energy costs. This action can ensure the electricity you are consuming in your business comes from a clean, non-polluting source via a cost-effective investment in sound technology with long-term returns (financial, environmental and intergenerational).