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Solar Power Upsurge as Energy Costs Increase

While households have led the way with the use of solar energy, commercial, industrial and resource sectors are now installing solar panels at record rates.

Energy expert Dominic Da Cruz said the key factors of increasing energy costs, faster return on investment, new technology, and concerns about environmental impact and corporate social responsibility had created the perfect storm for commercial investment in solar panels.

Recent figures from solar industry consultancy SunWiz suggest a 33% increase in installations across residential and commercial developments in WA last year.

“With the recent hike in energy prices and more pending, the commercial sector is now actively pursuing the use of solar power,” said Mr Da Cruz.

“Over the last five years, there has been a dramatic fall in the cost of installing solar power, especially rooftop panels and land developers, commercial property portfolios, schools and aged care should be embracing this,” he said.

“Studies reveal that over a five-year period, a solar panel will produce enough energy in just six months to pay back the cost of manufacturing. This means after the initial six months, it will be a net source of energy.”

Dominic Da Cruz is the managing director of Perdaman Advanced Energy who are behind the recent solar power installation at a shopping centre car park in Northam.

The car park is WA’s first purpose built solar car park and together with the roof-top array is currently the largest on-site commercial solar installation in WA at 665 kW. It will provide 40% of the electricity to the Northam Boulevard Shopping centre.

“There’s a wealth of benefits with commercial solar and storage which we are deploying into retirement villages, schools and large commercial property – especially shopping centres.”

“We’ve just completed a $700,000 project for leading aged care providers Southern Cross Care (SCC), installing solar energy systems across five of its retirement villages in the Perth metropolitan area.”

“Generating approximately 657,940 kWh annually, each system has a fantastic pay back around three years and will reduce the carbon impact of the sites by 539 tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent of planting 3,700 trees.”

“And we’re soon to be working with some of Perth’s private schools on solar power installation.”

Another growth market is the mining sector who, now that construction is complete, are looking to optimise the efficiency of their operations which are largely dependent on diesel.”

Mr Da Cruz said solar panels were an attractive proposition to commercial companies for the following reasons:

· Grid supplied electricity prices are increasing even further.

· The component costs of solar has dropped significantly

· A solar power system requires little maintenance and will provide electricity for up to 40 years.

· Making electricity from solar power will reduce emissions contributing to climate change which means companies are pro-actively reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.

“The combined effect is a winning business case.”

“There’s never been a more exciting time for commercial companies to embrace solar panels. We are confident that over the next ten years we will see them switch to this clean energy which has a wealth of environmental and economic benefits.”

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