Installing solar panels is proving a smart business decision for a growing number of Dealers seeking to cut their running costs
There are few countries as well suited to solar power as Australia.
Indeed, our sunburnt country enjoys more light exposure and clear days than most others and an increasing number of businesses are taking note. In Australia, this has been spurred on particularly by the growing cost of electricity. In recent years, expensive upgrades to the national grid have helped push power prices up and this is being felt by high-consuming businesses like auto dealerships.
Solar energy retailers such as Solargain – a leading Australian solar power and solar hot water company – are experiencing an influx of enquiries from businesses, including Dealers.
‘Every day, dealerships rely on electricity to power lighting, temperature control, workshop equipment, customer lounges and more,’ explains Solargain National Commercial Manager, Paul Hart.
‘Solar panels rely on light, not heat, and so they work in all climates every day of the year. The result for energy-intensive businesses like auto dealerships is a dramatic reduction in running costs, so it’s no wonder more people are becoming interested in the technology,’ Mr Hart said.
Adding to this, the Government’s immediate tax deduction for small business asset purchases (of $20,000 or less) along with other Government incentives available in specific cities and states has kept interest high.
But incentives aside, how much money can solar power help save?
Of course, that depends on many individual factors, but these real examples provide some indication:
Recently Solargain installed a 16kW solar power system for a small-medium sized luxury car specialist in Perth, Western Australia. Like most dealerships, the business operates six days per week and uses about 42,000 kWh of energy every year. The Solargain system, which will generate about 71 kWh per day, will offset up to 40% of the business’s daily energy usage assuming that all the energy produced is consumed in daylight hours.
In dollar terms, that’s an estimated $6,000 in electricity savings in the first year of operation, meaning the system will likely pay itself off in less than five years.
Another recent example includes the evaluation of an 80kW solar power system in Victoria for a well-known dealership group. The system was estimated to offset approximately 50% of the business’s daily energy usage, saving about $16,500 in electricity costs in the first year of operation.
Despite these impressive figures, saving money isn’t the only motivation for installing commercial solar power. In previous Automotive Dealer editions, we covered Honda’s highly successful Green Dealer program in the US which has motivated over 300 Honda and Acura dealerships to run more efficient businesses. Many of these Dealers are now marketing their green achievements to a growingly conscientious car-buying public, who prefer to shop with businesses that take sustainability seriously.
Solar power also adds value to your business, explains Solargain’s Mr Hart:
‘Businesses with solar panels attached are more desirable than those without.
Whether you own your building or you lease it; solar panels often provide greater bargaining power to those wanting to sell their business.’
Further reinforcing this point, a recent PRD National report has found that solar panels can increase the value of a house by 27 per cent – clearly indicating the demand for more sustainable buildings.
So what should businesses considering solar power do?
‘Plenty of research’ suggests Mr Hart, especially when it comes to choosing the right retailer.
‘Solar energy systems are a long-term investment, so you’ve got to choose a commercial solar power company and products that will go the distance. Retailers with Australian-supported products, physical offices in the country and that are ISO 9001 quality-accredited should be minimum requirements to avoid disappointment.’
What is clear is that as operating an auto dealership in Australia becomes increasingly challenging, Dealers may very well find relief by looking to the sky.
For more information on solar power for dealerships, contact Solargain’s Paul Hart via Paul.Hart@solargain.com.au
Marketing Manager, Solargain PV