There has never been a better time to take advantage of the many benefits of commercial solar.

Is your business currently paying power bills of around $350,000 annually? If so, you could save up to half that bill by installing a 500kW commercial solar power system.

And as the savings start to roll in from day one, you will be freeing up funds that can be invested more productively in your business while getting immediate protection against the shock of unpredictable future energy price hikes.

How much can you save and how long will it take to pay back?

How much you will save depends on several factors, including how much electricity you utilise in your business, your location, and the tariff structure of your current energy contract.

As a conservative estimate, a 500kW commercial solar system could potentially generate $80,000 – $170,000 in savings on your power bill each year.

With the right advice and financing options, you could start generating a positive cash return from your commercial solar power systems from day one.

Even with the larger >500kW systems, most businesses could expect to break even on the costs of installation within 4-5 years. The average payback period for systems in the >100kW range is about 4.3 years.  

How much does a 500kw commercial solar system cost?

The good news is that prices have fallen dramatically for commercial solar installations in the last few years.

As a general guide, you can expect to pay between $600,000 for systems with cheaper components and $800,000 for a system comprised mainly of premium European components. These prices are exclusive of GST.

But providing a reliable price guide is complex, particularly for large-scale 500kW and above systems (there are lots of outdated and misleading prices on the web!). This is because:

  • large-scale systems require significant expertise and experience to design and install
  • like all solar products, the average price of a 500kW solar system varies across Australia
  • the price of solar components is constantly changing and can be affected by your location, your installer, the technical complexity of your site and the quality of each of the components selected
  • and there are a wide range of options you can choose to customise your system to meet your goals and budget.

It is important to get a personalised quote, tailored to your specific requirements and location from a solar company with extensive experience in larger systems.

How much space do you need for a 500kW system?

The exact amount of space required depends on the strength of panels you use. Panel strength also determines the number of panels you need for your system.

Solar panels come in different sizes but most measure 1.6 metres x 1.0 metre.

Depending on the strength of panels you use to power your system, 500kW solar PV systems involve the installation of approximately 1500-1600 solar panels and 13-16 commercial grade inverters.

A 500kW system using 330-watt panels will require about 3000 meters of space to be installed. Commercial solar panels can be ground mounted or fitted on the rooftops of buildings, warehouses, sheds and carparks or any combination of these.

How much electricity will a 500kW solar system generate?

The answer to this question depends on the time of year and your location. Both factors determine the amount of solar irradiation that your panels will be exposed to.

In Queensland, Western Australia, Northern Territory, and the ACT, you can expect your system to generate between 2,100 – 2,200 kilowatt hours per day (kWh/day). The amount of electricity generated will be around 1,950 kWh/day in New South Wales, 1,8000 kWh/day in Victoria and 1,750 kWh/day in Tasmania.

What sort of businesses are best suited to going solar?

500kW commercial solar systems are suitable for any large energy use businesses, including factories, manufacturing and processing plants, schools, and hospitals.

How much CO2 will a 500kW system save?

This system will help your business to reduce your carbon emissions by around 360-375 tonnes per year, or 7,200-7,500 tonnes over 20 years.

What government incentives are available?

Until 2030, the Australian Government is providing incentives, in the form of Large-scale Generation Certificates for solar panel systems >100mW. LGCs are a kind of currency for buying and selling renewable energy.

Commercial solar installations above 100kW are eligible to receive Largescale Generation Certificates (LGC’s) for the energy that they generate. One certificate is provided for one Megawatt hour of electricity generation.

For businesses with large-scale systems, LGCs can be a source of ongoing revenue that speeds up return on investment.

LGCs are produced on an ongoing basis after the system is accredited, installed, and producing power. This means that they can provide an ongoing revenue stream for businesses with large-scale systems (as opposed to the STC’s for systems ≤100kW that are used to provide a discount on the up-front price of the system).

Over the next 10 years, businesses with a 500kW commercial solar system could benefit from over $600,000 of additional revenue because of this incentive.

What else do you need to consider before investing in commercial solar?

With a system this size, it is important to make sure it is designed in a way that delivers the maximum efficiency and return from your investment.

The most critical decision you will need to make is choosing a solar company that has extensive experience in the design, installation, and financing of larger systems.

You should also look for companies that have a strong track record of delivery; a sophisticated engineering, procurement, and construction process; and experience in generating and redeeming LGCs for their clients.

Getting your panels installed in the proper location is essential to the efficient operation of the system and to you getting the best return. There are a number of factors that need to be considered here including direction, tilt, shade, temperature, aesthetics, the load-bearing capacity of your roof space, local council restrictions and risks for damage from weather, wildlife and people.

Investing in higher quality solar inverters will also increase the system’s conversion of energy from the solar panels into electricity.

In addition to the numerous economic and environmental benefits, installing a commercial solar system brings a significant marketing benefit. Clean energy improves brand image and allows businesses to connect with other companies that share the same values. It can also provide an appealing point of difference for customers who may face a choice between a product produced in a low carbon facility versus one that continues to rely heavily on fossil fuels.