Integration of PV Solar into Retirement Villages - the rights and wrongs!
As electricity prices have steadily risen over the past 15 years, the installation of photovoltaic (PV) solar systems have become an increasingly attractive method of reducing the impact of utility costs. The driving factor included heavily subsidised Small Generation Certificates (SGCs) and the high feed-in tariffs received for the surplus electricity returned to the grid.
In recent years, retailers have reduced feed-in tariffs which led to a decline in the installation of PV solar. However, as electricity prices rose on the back of the removal of coal-fired power plants, the appetite for PV solar was revived. PV solar systems in retirement villages can and does provide the residents and village managers with significant benefits, as long as the following guidelines are considered:
- More is not necessarily better - solar providers will love to sell you as much PV solar equipment as they possibly can. Villages only need enough PV solar capacity to manage their peak load, and too many solar companies oversell the volume of PV solar required. Oversized systems result in wasted capital expenditure coupled with a large portion of the solar generated electricity exported back to the grid for little or no return.
- Likewise, be wary of Solar Purchase Power Agreements (PPAs). Whilst not having to expend any capital on the PV solar system can be very attractive for villages, many PPA providers will charge you for every kWh produced by the system, whether it is used by the village or not. This can result in the village effectively losing money from the system, when the agreed price per kWh for energy generated by the system is greater than the fee-in tariff received for excess energy.
- Overcapitalising on emerging technologies such as batteries. In our opinion, the technology is not yet entirely viable as batteries are still expensive often resulting in pay-back periods >10 years. In some cases, longer than the life of the battery itself. It is also worth considering that villages may need additional PV solar to charge the batteries during the day.
- PV solar systems work well in an environment where the power generated can be shared through an Embedded Power Network (EPN). This way power generated from the system can be used throughout the EPN by multiple users, reducing the volume of energy exported to the grid and allowing the EPN manager to provide cheaper electricity rates to residents.
- Keep an eye on rapidly evolving technologies:
- Battery technology is moving at a great rate of knots, as they are becoming cheaper and more reliable every day. As the technology improves, so does the opportunity to increase PV solar and implement battery technology into villages.
- Electric Vehicle (EV) charging will become a standard requirement as EVs become more popular. The integration of EV charging with PV solar systems needs to be a strong consideration in not only the design of a new village, but also how this can be retrofitted into existing villages.
Savant Energy are specialists in the management of Embedded Power Networks and PV solar systems in retirement villages Australia wide. If you are looking at how you can reduce the utility costs for your residents and would like to integrate PV solar into your village, give the team at Savant Energy a call:
Darren Lines Daniel Porter
Sales and Marketing Manager Sales Manager
M: 0427 635 149 M: 0402 438 596