Commercial and Industrial Solar
Commercial-scale solar is experiencing a rapid rate of growth across manufacturing, marae, food and beverage businesses, farmiing, processing and distribution, retail, as well as infrastructure, offices, and in education sectors.
Defined as systems sized greater than 10 kW and currently up to approximately 1 MW, these systems are typified by being mounted on the roof of a business or businesses, however, they may also be ground-mounted adjacent to a business if they are connected within a business before the electricity meter.
Driven by a desire to reduce emissions and energy costs, commercial-scale solar takes has natural advantages in the scale provided by large roof areas on commercial buildings, and that businesses predominantly use the majority of their electricity during the day when the sun is shining - improving the rate of return on investment and reduction in emissions.
Many businesses are now placing sustainability high on their priorities and leading the way toward New Zealand's Zero Carbon goals, finding the energy savings and boost to their brand added as advantages. Newly established Forest Lodge Orchard, a 6-hectare cherry orchard in Central Otago near Cromwell is one such business, aiming to be the first large-scale food producer in the country to minimise the carbon emissions from food production by using renewable energy. Forest Lodge was 100% electric for its first commercial harvest in January 2022 and through electrification will avoid about 84t CO2e a year.
100% electrification means lower operating costs and early zero carbon
Over the past decade the proportion of commercial installations has been steadily increasing: from 11% in 2013 to 34% in 2022. The average capacity of new installations in 2022 was ~32 kW with ~18 MW of commercial solar added, an average annual growth rate of 56.5%.
SEANZ Group members are seeing an increased interest in medium to large commercial systems because it makes sense on many levels, it makes sense financially, provides differentiation and a competitive advantage in overseas and local markets, and allows companies to do their bit to combat climate change.
Businesses that have partnered with SEANZ members to go solar have achieved impressive results.
- 100% electrification in business - download the Forest Lodge Orchard case study
- Misco Joinery in Kaiapoi generates around 65% of the joinery factory’s total energy consumption, an estimated 16.1% return on investment for the company. Director Glenn Colenso says the company opted for the installation in order to maximise their large, empty roof. “We have a huge roof that was not doing anything, and when we looked at the return on investment it made perfect business sense to install solar panels up there”.
- Foodstuffs Manukau Distribution Centre’s impressive 1.166 MWp rooftop array has reduced the release of 194 tons of CO2e into the atmosphere annually, and more than offsets the electricity demand for their office. Simon Wilson of RDT Pacific, the Director and Sustainable Development Advisor for the project, says the economic viability of this system for Foodstuffs signals a turning point in the industry.
- The Tau Henare Marae project in remote Pipiwai will share excess energy form its 150kwh system with 80 local homes through a process called peer-to-peer power-sharing
- Kirriemuir Farm will produce around 46% of the farms daytime load powering its refrigeration unit and effluent pump
- Laminex’s Hamilton factory operates 24/7, with 54 staff, manufacturing surfaces used for kitchens and other interior design projects for customers all over New Zealand. After adding solar to the plant's roof, expect the new power system will contribute about 79 percent of the factory's overall electricity use in a year.
- In retail, Morningside Precinct developer Rod Ballenden says “Solar makes business sense and is saving the businesses in the precinct hundreds of dollars a week in energy costs.” Moore Street Retail Centre in Howick’s solar system provides more than 50% of the power needs of the 13 retailers. The remaining power is coming from the grid and is purchased from a 100% sustainable energy supplier at wholesale prices.
To read more about these and other commercial and industrial projects here.