Australia’s largest privately owned office products supplier, COS, has become the latest of the nation’s industry leaders to turn to rooftop solar power, after rolling out 403kW of PV panels across three of its warehouses in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
The three separate PV systems – 270kW at Sydney, 93.9kW at Melbourne and 39.5kW at Brisbane – were installed after an audit found electricity use to be responsible for 50 per cent of the company’s carbon emissions.
The combined $1 million investment is expected to generate more than 611MWh of electricity a year for the company, which will cover around 80 per cent of the energy needs of each site.
According to COS managing director, Dominique Lyone, the company will also look into adding battery storage, to take its solar self consumption levels closer to 100 per cent.
“The solar energy farms actually produce more energy than we need with 25 per cent being fed back into the electricity grid,” Lyone said.
“The next phase of this project will involve further investigation into battery storage solutions to move us closer to our goal of a zero emissions future.”
Mark Tuke, the CEO of Sun Connect, who installed the systems, said it was still quite rare to see this level of investment from the private sector in Australia.
“This was one of the largest commercial solar panel installations undertaken by Sun Connect,” Tuke said in comments last week.
“COS’ investment in solar technology demonstrates its level of genuine commitment to sustainable energy solutions,” he said.
The COS website will also feature live data showing the amount of energy generated from its solar energy farms.
Lyone said that COS – being a privately owned company – had the freedom to make long term decisions that might not have an immediate return on investment.
Although it should be noted that as technology costs fall, and electricity prices continue to rise, system payback for commercial solar in Australia is rapidly shrinking to anywhere between 4-8 years, in a lot of cases.
“This move reflects our commitment to embracing new technology to protect natural resources and create sustainable solutions that benefit current and future generations,” Lyone said.
“COS has a very robust corporate social responsibility policy and at the heart of this is the goal that ultimately our day-to-day operations will produce zero impact on the environment,” he said.
“We hope this inspires other organisations to reduce their carbon footprint.”