0215 GMT February 23, 2020
A new report by the Climate Council details the increased speed of a business-led transition to renewables as power bills have increased, according to theguardian.com.
The average household and small-business energy bill is more than 80 percent higher than a decade ago. Gas prices have increased three-fold in five years.
Many businesses — including 46 percent of large operations — have responded by seeking green alternatives.
The Climate Council report said the capacity of Australian businesses to generate their own solar power had doubled in less than two years.
Business owners report making their investment back through cost savings in less than five years.
The general manager of AustChilli at Bundaberg, Ian Gaffel, said the decision to invest in solar panels was a ‘no-brainer’.
AustChilli employed more than 100 people in the agriculture and food manufacturing process.
The business initially built a 100kW solar system and about 18 months ago added an additional 200kW.
Solar now accounts for about a quarter of the business’s power usage.
Gaffel said, “We looked for many years at the idea before jumping in a few years ago.
“We’re a growing business so as we’ve grown the energy we’re using goes up. My role is on the financial side and from the numbers it was a very easy decision.
“It takes away that unknown of ‘what’s the power bill going to do next’. For us to be able to get some stability … and generate energy that won’t be subject to those fluctuations. Anybody who has the ability to spend on capital investment, it’s a no-brainer.
“The cost savings gave the business more confidence and certainty when deciding to expand and hire more employees.
“The next step for the business will likely be battery storage, which will further decrease its reliance on the energy grid.”
The story is being repeated across the country, particularly in the manufacturing industry, where increased power bills have squeezed profits.
The Melbourne-based Carlton and United Breweries is moving towards 100 percent renewable energy.
The company is adding a rooftop solar installation and has signed an agreement with a solar farm near Mildura to provide most of the brewery’s power needs for the next 12 years.
Sun Metals, which runs a power-intensive zinc refinery near Townsville, is one of Queensland’s biggest energy consumers.
To help justify a planned $300m expansion, the business is building a massive solar farm that will produce one third of its energy needs. The refinery will be the largest single-site consumer of renewables in the country.
Greg Bourne, who is a member of the Climate Council and an energy expert, said businesses who transitioned to renewable energy to cut costs and take control of their power bills were also playing a crucial role in transitioning the nation away from ageing, polluting and unreliable fossil fuels.
He said, “This report shows that the rising cost of energy is the number one concern for Australian businesses over the next decade, so it’s no surprise that a variety of businesses … are all turning to affordable renewable energy and storage solutions.
“This is a worldwide transition, with businesses around the globe taking advantage of the investment opportunities associated with renewable energy, with 131 of the world’s largest companies on their way to being powered by 100 percent renewables.”
The Clean Energy Regulator said the government’s 2020 renewable energy target had effectively been met by projects that have been built, commissioned, or are under construction.