Three major commercial solar projects installed by South Australia-based renewables outfit ZEN Energy have illustrated the growing demand for energy solutions among Australian businesses, trying to cut costs and meet sustainability targets.
ZEN – which has grown from a small Adelaide solar installer to a renewable energy and storage solutions player chaired by leading economist Ross Garnaut – says it has found a sweet spot in Australia’s commercial and industrial market, installing nearly 3MW of PV for businesses across multiple sectors, in various states.
The series of recent contract wins include a 1.27MW system across three campuses of Trinity College in Gawler, north of Adelaide; 830kW of panels across seven inter-state sites for structural steel manufacturer Ahrens; and 817kW across four sties for SA beverage maker Bickfords.
ZEN Energy Founder and Director of Innovation Richard Turner said the project wins were a “vote of confidence” in ZEN, as well ask being an indicator of a shift in Australia’s PV market.
“What we are seeing is the consumer market maturing and the focus shifting towards large-scale solar systems to combat rising energy costs.
“The outcome for the customer is really power at about one-fifth of the cost of what they would pay for traditional energy,” Turner said.
“I think it’s a great vote of confidence in the company, and the fact that we’re able to scale up to the requirements of these companies, where the lion’s share of their energy now can be purchased through renewables on the roof.”
For Trinity College, the addition of rooftop solar has freed up money for other important causes.
“There are great energy savings to be made from solar and any reduction in energy costs is money we can re-invest for our educational pursuits,” said the college’s head, Nick Lately.
Ahrens managing director Stefan Ahrens says his company expects to see a three to four year return on investment for its solar install, cutting the business’s energy costs by around 45 per cent.
And Bickfords group operations manager, George Kotses, said solar was an economical answer to energy bills on the rise.
“Like all businesses, we are continually looking at ways to mitigate costs and operate in a sustainable way – solar ticks both those boxes,” he said.