Almost half of Australian big business moving to renewables
Climate Council says capacity of firms to generate solar power has doubled in less than two years
Almost half of Australia’s large businesses are actively transitioning to cheaper renewable energy, including many going off the grid by building their own generators and battery storage, as power bills threaten their bottom line.
A new report by the Climate Council details the increased speed of a business-led transition to renewables as power bills have increased.
The average household and small-business energy bill is more than 80% higher than a decade ago. Gas prices have increased threefold in five years.
Many businesses – including 46% of large operations – have responded by seeking green alternatives. The Climate Council report, released on Tuesday, said the capacity of Australian businesses to generate their own solar power had doubled in less than two years.
Business owners report making their investment back through cost savings in less than five years.
The general manager of AustChilli at Bundaberg, Ian Gaffel, said the decision to invest in solar panels was a “no-brainer”.
AustChilli employs more than 100 people in the agriculture and food manufacturing process. The business initially built a 100kW solar system and about 18 months ago added an additional 200kW.
Solar now accounts for about a quarter of the business’s power usage.
“We looked for many years at the idea before jumping in a few years ago,” Gaffel said. “We’re a growing business so as we’ve grown the energy we’re using goes up.”
“My role is on the financial side and from the numbers it was a very easy decision.
“It takes away that unknown of ‘what’s the power bill going to do next’. For us to be able to get some stability … and generate energy that won’t be subject to those fluctuations. Anybody who has the ability to spend on capital investment, it’s a no-brainer.”
Gaffel said the cost savings gave the business more confidence and certainty when deciding to expand and hire more employees. The next step for the business will likely be battery storage, which will further decrease its reliance on the energy grid.