Victorian aged care facility to save $40k a year with solar

A Mildura not-for-profit aged care facility is set to save as much as $40,000 a year after installing just under 100kW of solar on its rooftops.
In need of an energy upgrade, Chaffey Aged Care in Merbein, 10 minutes from the centre of Mildura, turned to solar for a number of reasons, including the fact that it is located in one of Victoria’s top solar locations, boasting an average of 8.6 hours of sunlight a day.
1712 Chaffey roof pic
Another benefit is that Mildura is a long distance from the Latrobe Valley, where Victoria’s brown coal generated power comes from, and suffers from an energy transmission loss of more than 20 per cent.
But as a not-for-profit, run by the local community, the budget at the 78 bed facility was tight, so local solar consultants Lee & Golding were engaged to help devise an affordable proposal for installation.
According to Josh Lee of Lee & Golding the finished scheme comprises 384 260W Trina Solar Honey panels with 4 x 25Kw SMA inverters that produces 165,000Kw per annum, an estimated energy saving of around $40,000 per annum.
“Mildura is a hot climate and air conditioning is a must for many months of the year so the solar installation had to take this energy usage into account and our initial plan had to provide for this,” Lee said.
Chaffey Aged Care CEO Darren Midgley said the system has a projected energy efficiency of 87.3 per cent and that the energy savings will pay back the cost of the solar system in just under three years.
“The cost of energy is really expensive,” Midgley told local paper, Sunraysia Daily. “It is an energy-intensive industry and we would normally spend $10,000 a month on power.
“When you think that in 2.8 years (the panels) will have paid themselves off, it makes a lot of sense.”

Chaffey Aged Care CEO Darren Midgley. Source: Sunraysia Daily

“We’ll save a total of more than $1.2 million over 25 years and an environmental saving of around 170,000kg of CO2 gases per year,” Midgley said.
“Clearly the anticipated energy saving was the big motivator for us but we are also delighted with the environmental benefit that has been achieved.
“Our residents have shown great interest in the solar scheme as it has progressed but we have also had a number of enquiries from others who are now considering installing their own schemes.”
As we have written here and here before, Australia’s booming aged care sector has been one of the leaders of commercial solar growth.
As Solgen Energy director David Naismith put it in this article, “the profile of energy consumption within the aged care sector makes a very compelling business case irrespective of the size of the operator.
“As returns have grown, purchasing channels for solar power systems have also grown. While purchasing outright generally still generates the best returns, financing options under power purchase agreements or leasing mean the system can be installed at zero cost from day one. The savings generated are then used to pay the financing over the term – irrespective, it still ends up cash flow positive for the business.”


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