Commercial solar systems provide an excellent way to reduce power bills in buildings, and their basic principle is very simple – owning a photovoltaic system is cheaper than purchasing electricity equivalent to its production from electricity retailers. If you calculate the purchase price of 100,000 kWh per year, and then compare it with the annual ownership cost of a solar system that produces 100,000 kWh per year, you will notice that solar power is the cheaper option by 50% or more.
However, even after deploying a solar system, you will still spend more than necessary on electricity if you are consuming it inefficiently. The benefit of producing your own electricity is partially offset if your installations are wasteful – power losses due to inefficiency become a smaller expense if your electricity source is cheaper, but they are still an unnecessary expense!
As an example, assume two identical buildings will be equipped with commercial solar systems of the same capacity, and both properties get roughly the same sunshine. However, one property has modern air conditioning systems and LED lighting, while the other uses inefficient window-type air conditioners and older fluorescent lighting.
Generating your own electricity is one of many viable approaches to reduce your power bills, and it can be combined with other strategies to achieve even greater benefits. In addition to deploying energy efficiency measures, and you can take advantage of how your power bill is structured to pay less for each kilowatt-hour. This article will describe how both approaches can be combined with solar power to make your power bills as low as possible.
If you have already decided to deploy a solar power system for your building, you should also get your installation checked to identify inefficient equipment. The following are some examples of cost-effective equipment upgrades that can complement a commercial solar array:
Energy efficiency requires a customised approach for each property, just like commercial solar systems. The examples above are cost-effective in a wide range of projects, but the best combination of energy efficiency measures can only be determined with an energy audit.
Remember you can get a commercial solar system at zero upfront cost through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). This frees up capital to deploy energy saving measures, and then you can use the output of your solar installation more efficiently.
Depending on how your power bill calculated, it may be possible to reduce the amount paid simply by changing the hours when you use certain electrical equipment.
Managing your consumption becomes much simpler if you add batteries to a commercial solar system. The batteries can be programmed to be used as the main electricity source when kilowatt-hour prices are high, or when your building’s power consumption is at its peak.
Basically, demand management allows you to “turn the tables” when dealing with electricity providers. You can take advantage of billing practices that would normally work against you:
We are aware that the methods described above may feel like cheating your electricity provider, but they are perfectly legal. You are not tampering with the power meter in any way, but simply taking advantage of how electricity tariffs are structured in Australia – this is not very different from looking for discounts when shopping.
A building equipped with a commercial solar system achieves a significant reduction of electricity bills, but the benefits are enhanced if you add energy efficiency and demand management measures into the mix:
A building with all the measures described above is almost invulnerable to the electricity price increases frequently applied in Australia. The power grid is relegated to a backup electricity source, while a commercial solar system provides kilowatt-hours at a fraction of the retail rate.
If you conduct financial analysis for a solar power system, you will find that the business case is very favorable in most cases. However, an even higher return on investment can be achieved with a project that combines all the possible strategies together: solar generation, energy efficiency and smart management of your consumption.