Solar energy systems are one of the fastest growing areas of infrastructure for Australian small businesses.
Staring from an almost non-existent base five years ago, the uptake of solar energy in the country’s corporate engine room almost doubled over the last calendar year.
Compared to just 9,663 in 2017, 16,596 rooftop systems were ordered by small businesses in 2018. While domestic households still account for the vast majority of installations, the Federal Government’s Clean Energy Regulator has noted that small business is one of its most aggressive growth categories.
So why has solar energy suddenly become all the rage after being virtually ignored by the commercial sector for so long?
There are twin economic forces at play.
For many years site supervisors and energy managers, even at larger corporations, could not make a compelling business case. The start-up costs were simply too exorbitant, and the lag time to retrieve that investment through cost savings too long, to convince bean counters to make the switch.
But the soaring cost of traditional power sources like electricity and gas has changed that equation. With the savings on power bills more pronounced, the upfront cost is looking more and more worthwhile.
There is also a recognition that fossil fuels are finite. Prices will only continue to rise as their stocks become more scarce. The sun, on the other hand, is only getting brighter. There is no shortage of climate data predicting a hotter, drier Australian climate in the future.
Investing in solar energy is by no means cheap, and very few businesses can afford to do so without finance. But with energy prices remaining high, and showing no sign of receding, it’s an infrastructure avenue that’s worth exploring for all kinds of business.