From BRW: How Smart Commercial Solar is navigating a shifting solar industry
Today BRW published an article on Smart Commercial Solar's story and some of the reasons we have continued to grow in a challenging market for solar in Australia.
In addition to explaining how the company found a way to install solar panels at no upfront cost for business, BRW explores some of the fundamental values behind our company, the big issues facing our industry, and the kinds of innovation needed to make solar reach its full potential in our sun-rich country.
Here is an excerpt:
“It’s a tougher market now and you’ve got to work harder at making sales, so we’ve seen a lot of the cowboys leave the market,” Mr Gladman said. “We’re also seeing a higher degree of sophistication in the business model and offering to customers, particularly in terms of the financial packages on offer.”
For Smart Commercial Solar that means giving customers a choice of buying a rooftop solar system, leasing it, or taking a pay-as-you-go option. The business targets commercial customers with a minimum annual electricity billof $20,000 – a level that would include many pubs and clubs and small manufacturers. Customers include Western Rail Link, Bunnings Alice Springs, IKEA’s Rhodes warehouse, the City of Yarra, and Narrabri Council.
“We’d got to a point where the solar panels had become cheap enough and the cost of other electricity expensive enough to pass the point of parity where it was cheaper for businesses to invest in solar than to pay their own energy bills,” Mr Hoogesteger said.
“What I realised is that we could take it to next level where the system pays for itself so well that we could put the panels on people’s roofs for free and then charge for the electricity it generates over the next five to 10 years. It removes the risk from the business by removing capital costs and removing performance and product risks; all that is now an after-thought because we own the system until it’s paid for itself and we’re taking on all that risk.”
Smart Commercial Solar’s latest initiative is to install solar panels in car park structures, and Mr Hoogesteger believes there are 14,000 gigawatts of untapped power in Australia’s outdoor car parks. Last year, Byron Bay tourist destination Macadamia Castle installed solar car park structures, funded by investors from the local community who will share in the revenue.