Case Study


Project Size:

700kW Rooftop Solar PV



Key Project Stats

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875MWh Generation per Year

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20% Energy Reduction

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13% Energy Discount

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10 Years PPA Contract

Case Study: Helping Australian Heavy Industry Go Green With Solar Power

Hardchrome is one of Australia’s leading heavy industry and surface engineering businesses. With two large workshop factories and a combined production space of 25,000 square metres, the successful family business supplies a broad range of industry sectors, both domestically and internationally.

Since the mid-1970s, Hardchrome has earned its solid reputation for hard chrome plating, laser plating and specialised repair work for industries like mining, energy, aviation, and defence. Unsurprisingly, the company’s facilities and activities have heavy energy requirements, and with the cost of energy spiralling, Hardchrome needed to find a way to drive efficiencies in this area.

“Reducing energy consumption while maintaining productivity was a challenge that needed to be addressed,” recalls Tim Dugan, Director of Hardchrome.

Hardchrome brought Smart Commercial Solar on to tackle this challenge by developing and implementing energy efficiency solutions, without disrupting business along the way.

Hardchrome solar drone shot

The Challenge

Hardchrome's biggest problem was that there was no real means to reduce energy consumption. The nature of Hardchrome’s work, which (as the company name suggests) includes hard chrome plating and processes that involve the application of lasers, is always going to be power-intensive. This was translating to substantial and uncontrollable increases to the annual power bills, and it was starting to become a significant burden on the company. 

The upside of this for those in Hardchome who were championing renewable energy was that it was relatively straightforward to gain stakeholder support for the need for solar renewable energy as a way of mitigating costs. 

A second problem – and the reason why Hardchrome needed a partner with the expertise of Smart Commercial Solar – is the uniquely challenging conditions of the Hardchrome facilities. The large, flat roofs required careful planning to ensure minimal disruption to ongoing operations and to allow the installation to occur around existing infrastructure like exhaust stacks and access footways. 

Finally, while solar installations are known for their low maintenance requirements, it was integral that the panels continued to perform optimally to meet Hardchrome’s demanding power needs. For this reason, a way to monitor and maintain the solar panels efficiently was also a key part of the brief. 

Hardchrome robotic laser

The Solution

Smart Commercial Solar started by conducting a comprehensive feasibility study to determine what could be achieved with solar panels for Hardchrome. Based on its facilities, available rooftop space, and expected energy generation it was decided that the facility could support around 20-25% of total power consumption via solar. 

This would be delivered through the installation of an approximately 700-kilowatt solar system, which would be highly optimised to consider factors such as roof tilt for water runoff. The system would be configured to provide a minimum number of obstructions should access to the roof be required. 

Another factor that was important to Hardchrome was the financing model to support its foray into solar panels. Smart Commercial Solar’s ability to be flexible with financing, including the provision of a PPA, allowed Hardchrome to lock in the renewable part of its energy costs for a 10-year period, addressing the concern that the company had with the ongoing fluctuations in power costs. 


“We've locked in 20% of our power and a contract for 10 years... that's a significant de-risking of our costs over that timeframe.”

Tim Dugan

Hardchrome - Director

Hardchrome drone shot

The Results

Despite a tight turnaround and planning timeframe, Smart Commercial Solar was able to complete the installation for Hardchrome with minimal disruption to its normal operation.

“It was pretty straightforward, I have to say. It was one of the most stress-free contracting things I've ever done,” Dugan recalls.

In the process, Smart Commercial Solar was also able to implement monitoring solutions that allowed total visibility, so both Hardchrome and Smart can ensure that the system runs optimally at all times.

By planning regular cleaning and maintenance around this monitoring, sustained performance will be possible while only requiring cleaning and maintenance every six to twelve months.

And, while the installation is still new and savings data is still being collected, the projected results are promising. Hardchrome is still anticipating that the system will reduce its annual power bill by 20-25%, which, given the sheer costs that it had been paying, means a big raw number that helps to bolster the company’s business resilience as power costs continue to rise.

It also allows Hardchrome to demonstrate that it is a good global citizen who is serious about tackling its carbon footprint. This is becoming more important in heavy industries, because suppliers and customers alike are looking to their partners to improve the sustainability of their supply chains. Increasingly, being able to demonstrate positive ESG is becoming a point of competitive differentiation.


Smart Commercial Solar's strategic partnership with Hardchrome has resulted in a successful renewable energy installation that addresses the challenges of high energy costs, energy-intensive operations, and integration with existing facilities.

By backing the tailored solar solution with flexible financing options and efficient installation, Smart Commercial Solar has delivered true resilience at a time when energy uncertainty is becoming one of the greatest risks Australian organisations are facing.

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