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Finance enables solar expansion

In a time where environmental responsibility is crucial, businesses have a unique opportunity to contribute to sustainability while reaping significant benefits. The Mornington Peninsula Shire’s commitment to sustainability offers valuable insights into how local businesses can make impactful changes that benefit both their bottom line and the planet.

Embracing solar

Flinders General Store is an old-fashioned general store located in Flinders, supplying locals and visitors with fresh bread and produce as well as all the essentials.

The store is open 12 hours a day, 365 days a year and can have 16-20 staff working. Energy is required primarily during daylight hours, but with a significant base load due mainly to refrigeration.

David Gibbs, Owner of Flinders General Store, wanted to install solar panels to become less dependent on the grid for electricity supply.

The Business Case

In 2017, David installed 236 Solar Panels on the roof of the building, using as much roof space as possible. The system has gone a long way to reduce the energy use of the building.

This was done with the help of Environmental Upgrade Finance*, an easy process with a 10-year repayment schedule paid alongside Council rates, with Finance provided by Sustainable Australia Fund.

Since then, an extension has created more roof space, and Mr Gibbs is planning on expanding the solar array.

* This program is no longer available. See The Path Forward (below) for information on current grants and subsidies

The application was straightforward and easy to complete. If I had sought to borrow these monies from the Bank the process would have taken much longer and have been much more complex.

David Gibbs, Owner of Flinders General Store

Outcomes

The problem

  • High energy use
  • High operational costs
  • Dependence on the grid for electricity supply

The solution

  • Solar panels installed
  • Electricity savings greater than loan repayments
  • Expected savings of $390k over 25-year asset lifetime*
  • Future-proofed the business against volatile energy market

Environmental Upgrade 236 Solar Panels (62.5-kilowatt capacity)
Electricity Savings 75,000 kilowatt hours per annum
Cost Savings $20,000 per annum
Return on Investment after 10 years 14%

*Assumptions: 62.5kW solar array generates 75MWh in the first year. 25c/kWh electricity tariff, 11c/kWh feed in tariff. 20% electricity generated is exported to the grid, 80% used on site. Panel efficiency degrades 0.8% per year. Currency inflation 2% per year.

The Path Forward

While the specific funding for the Environmental Upgrade Finance (EUF) is no longer available, the commitment to sustainability remains a cornerstone for Mornington Peninsula Shire. The case of Flinders General Store demonstrates that investing in energy-efficient upgrades can yield significant benefits, both financially and environmentally.

Businesses are encouraged to explore various avenues for enhancing their sustainability practices. By upgrading to energy-efficient appliances and systems, businesses not only cut down on operating costs but also contribute to a healthier, more sustainable environment. This proactive approach not only benefits the business but also supports the broader community’s efforts to combat climate change.

Content updated June 2024

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