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Solar success for the Rye Hotel

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.

The business case

Rye Hotel is a well-established business, located at the western end of the Rye shopping strip on Point Nepean Road, Rye. The business includes a bistro, café, beer garden, bar, function rooms and resort style hotel with conference facilities. The accommodation facilities include 13 beachfront plus 30 poolside suites.

Owner and manager Peter Houghton had been planning the installation of solar panels at the site for some time, however, the main obstacle when contemplating a solar panel installation of this size was the upfront cost.

Peter was committed to maximising the solar potential of the roof space, reducing the business’ carbon footprint and preparing for an inevitable increase in electricity prices. The Environmental Upgrade Finance program* overcame the cost barrier, allowing the savings from the reduced power bill to pay for the repayments.

In 2017, he installed 329 solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations, reducing electricity expenses and improving marketing and promotional opportunities for the business.

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


The problem

  • High energy use
  • High operational costs
  • High carbon footprint
  • Volatile energy market

The solution

  • Solar panels and EV chargers installed
  • Electricity savings greater than loan repayments
  • Expected savings of $560k over 25-year asset lifetime*
  • Future-proofed the business against energy price increases

Environmental Upgrade 329 solar panels (88 kilowatt capacity)
Electricity Savings 120,000 kilowatt hours per annum
Cost Savings $25,000 per annum

*Assumptions: 88kW solar array generates 120MWh 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 resource of sunlight is there for the taking…. it reduces one’s carbon footprint.  EUF is an opportunity to get ahead of the game, to assist businesses financially  to manage their risk to the inevitable increases in future energy costs.

Peter Houghton, Owner/Manager of Rye Hotel

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 Rye Hotel 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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