'Slender' roofs won't bear a solar future'

"If you've got a slender roof, it's really built to the minimum specification. It's structurally adequate but when it comes to additional roof capacity, there is none.

"Retro-fitting of roofs is financially unviable. Structural engineers work at the whim of the owners."

It can cost an extra $19 per square metre to strengthen a roof to the required capacity, on Mr Hoogesteger estimates.

Read the full article here

Warilla Bowls to Save $75,000 per year with Smart Commercial Solar

Smart is proud to have been a part of what is being called the largest solar system of any club in Australia --it was a great partnership that made sense on every level.  The electricity savings are definitely significant, more than $75,000 a year projected.  If you're interested in learning more about how this project worked and why it was in direct response to the recent electricity price hikes bringing real pain to far too many businesses and organisations, you can read more here:  http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/5078442/warilla-bowlo-evolves-into-a-solar-high-roller/

And you can watch Channel Nine's coverage by clicking below:

Smart Commercial Solar Becomes Founding Member of Open Cities


Smart Commercial Solar is proud to be a founding member of Open Cities, the first advocacy group in Australia to support the abundance and lower costs to all consumers that new technologies like solar can deliver if government and business does things right.   Smart's Huon Hoogesteger said this to The Fifth Estate:

A common voice to oppose shortsightedness

Smart Commercial Solar managing director Huon Hoogesteger told The Fifth Estate Open Cities members had similar themes: “Common infrastructure that can provide a backbone for a healthy and abundant community.”

He says currently infrastructure is going into developments without considering long-term implications.

“Often developers have a competing interest with the future owners.

“Developers wish to lower their construction costs yet this comes at the price of the community running costs. Often the incumbent service providers are the last ones to adopt new technologies. To date there’s been no voice for the future to oppose this shortsightedness. Open Cities provides that voice.

“The idea of Open Cities means that through appropriate planning and construction our communities can be more efficient, more holistic, less of an impact and ultimately provide an abundance of services for a lower cost.”

Boost building codes so roofs can take more solar panels

One particular recommendation to the Greater Sydney Commission is to update building codes to improve roof designs for increased solar load.

Hoogesteger says there are swathes of new industrial roof spaces in Western Sydney that would have been perfect for solar, if only they could support the load.

“Most of these rooftops have been designed within the limits of Australian Standards and as such have enough capacity to hold themselves up, but no capacity to host solar panels,” he says.

“The reason: The additional cost of the structural build averages around $19/square metre to the capital cost of the building.

Less than one year to break even

“Our argument is simple: the revenue generated by a solar system on these roofs would be around $21/sq m a year. So less than one year to break even and you future proof the building.

“But developers are thinking of their build costs, not the longer term benefits to their buyer, tenant or community.”

It’s simple changes like raising buildings standards that could see sustainable cities triumph over short-termism, Hoogesteger says.

“[Open Cities’] first goal is to open the minds of planners, developers and construction companies to the possibility that things can be done better.”

You can read more here.

Solar Energy Boom Needs Planning

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This story about the solar energy boom shows how important it is to get the planning and the vision right if we're going to build communities where energy works for everyone:

A $3 billion solar development boom has swept across northern Victoria, with Australian, Thai, Chinese and French companies jostling to snap up irrigation and dryland properties to install millions of photovoltaic panels.

Mildura, Gannawarra, Swan Hill, Moira and Wangaratta councils have approved at least 29 solar projects. Mildura Rural City Council has signed off on seven solar farms, worth about $1.5 billion, with 11 more on the drawing board, including a Chinese developer seeking 64 square kilometres of land.

One of the largest developments to gain approval so far is the Lyon Group’s 250MW development, which will cost $660 million and involve installing 2.3 million panels at Nowingi, near the Calder Highway.

.But a lack of planning policies surrounding the solar farms is proving problematic for councils, local residents and farmers.

Municipal Association of Victoria president Mary Lalios is calling for support to help councils balance the solar boom with agricultural needs.

“There is currently no policy or controls in planning schemes specifically for assessing solar farms,” Cr Lalios said

Read the rest of the story here.