Store looks to sun to halve its power bills

ELECTRICITY bills are soaring and many businesses are feeling the pain.

In Bendigo, one business is making a big up-front investment that the owner hopes will cut those bills by up to two-thirds.

This week, the Williamson Street 24-hour general store started covering most of its available roof space with high efficiency solar panels.

Bendigo company Cola Solar is installing a large 37.6 kw system comprising 115 Sunpower panels on the store’s east and north-west facing roofs, north-west facing storeroom and a skillion roof.

Installation of the grid-connected system began on Monday and is expected to be complete by next week.

General store owner-manager John Giles said the reason for the solar switch was to cut down the business’s electricity running costs.

“We use a lot of electricity outside, plus there’s the freezers for icecream in the shop,” he said.

“The power bills were just getting out of control.

 “We’ve been looking at it for a while and finally decided to do it.”

He said the store was well oriented for solar power and was lucky to have no shading from trees or buildings.

He expects the solar system will cover the 24-hour store’s daytime power use and cut the store’s electricity costs by about two-thirds.

Payback on the store’s system – the time taken to recover the cost of installation - is expected to be seven years or less.

Cola Solar business development manager Jai Edwards said the American-made Sunpower panels being installed on Mr Giles’s store were the most efficient panel in the world today, and the German SMA inverter was the market-leading inverter.

Mr Edwards said solar could save 40 to 50 per cent of a building’s power, and up to 75 per cent.

“Forty to 50 per cent is realistic using very conservative figures based on Melbourne sunlight, but typically in the Bendigo region we are another 10 to 20 per cent higher than that,” he said.

Nine-to-five businesses with high daytime power usage, and manufacturers, would particularly benefit from solar, he said.

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