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Rooftop solar is installed on approximately 2.8 million roofs in Australia. This totals about 18 GWs of solar; similar to the total coal plant generation capacity in the National Electricity Market (NEM). Despite this, the UNSW estimate we have used only 10% of the total potential rooftop solar capacity of 179 GW. The 179 GW is enough solar to supply all of our current electricity usage.

As we build more strata communities, the potential roof space available in strata grows and represents a great opportunity for communities to install solar. Solar in Strata represents a great opportunity for strata communities to:

  • Reduce energy costs
  • Contribute to a cleaner energy future
  • Increase energy independence and hedge against market volatility

While the opportunity is big, installing solar in strata requires some important additional considerations compared to a normal solar installation.

Read more to learn more about the most important considerations for installing solar in strata.

The UNSW estimate Australia has the potential for 179 GW of rooftop solar, which is sufficient to supply all our current electricity usage.

The Most Important Considerations for Strata

1. Building Suitability

While there are many factors that determine whether a strata building is suitable for solar, we find building height and roof type to be the best indicators of a building’s suitability. See the simple matrix below. Communities with High Suitability should be exploring solar options. Buildings with Low Suitability should conduct thorough due diligence and get expert advice before proceeding.

Building Height Tin roof with minimal obstructions Concrete Roof with good free area Concrete Roof, plant rooms, limited free area
5 or Less Levels High Suitability High Suitability Medium Suitability
6 – 12 Levels High Suitability Medium Suitability Low Suitability
> 12 Levels Medium Suitability Medium Suitability Low Suitability

2. Funding Options and Costs

Funding solar options for strata communities include:

  • The BC can pay upfront from Sinking Fund or Special Levy, or pay it off via a Strata loan
  • Alternatively, a specialist embedded network energy retailer can fund the solar, recover the costs via energy on selling, and gift the solar to the BC at the end of agreement
  • Further to this, there are solar Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) whereby a third party owns the solar system and sells the energy to the BC. However, detailed investigations are required for PPAs because they are often more expensive and provide less benefits.

The table below shows the indicative costs of installing solar in strata communities. Costs are per kW of DC rating of installed panel, and ex GST.

Indicative Solar Costs for Systems 100kW or less net of upfront rebates received.

Building Height Tin roof with minimal obstructions Concrete Roof with good free area Concrete Roof, plant rooms, limited free area
5 or Less Levels $900/kW $1,300/kW $1,600/kW
6 – 12 Levels $1,000/kW $1,400/kW $1,700/kW
> 12 Levels $1,100/kW $1,500/kW $1800/kW

3. Connection and Sharing Benefit Options

There are two main options of sharing the benefits of solar:

  1. Install the solar on the common meter and reduce common power costs, which will in turn reduce levies for owners,
  2. Share the solar amongst all residents and the common meter, which enables owners and tenants alike to benefit.

The metering and billing can be done relatively easily if experience service providers are engaged:

  1. Under Option 1, solar reduces common power used and therefore BC receives lower common power bill.
  2. Under Option 2, residents’ meters are read and billed as normal, but everyone receives lower prices.

Strata Communities can share the benefits of solar to all residents easily with embedded networks

4. Best Practice for Ongoing Monitoring and Maintenance

Solar systems require ongoing maintenance to ensure optimal performance over the life of the systems. Our top tops for Best Practice ongoing monitoring and maintenance are:

i. Install a good quality online monitoring system with fault and underperformance alerts such as Solar Analytics

ii. Have a maintenance plan and budget and make sinking fund contributions for expected future maintenance costs

iii. Engage a competent and experienced service provider to carry out periodic maintenance inspections

iv. Engage a competent and experienced service provider to carry out periodic cleans

If you are interested in talk solar please don’t hesitate to reach out to the team at Hum Energy.

Article Contributed by Ben Humphreys, Managing Director, HumEnergy 

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  1. Neville Jensen

    We’re looking at a solar option for our building in Mooloolaba, Sirocco, 59-75 Mooloolaba Esplanade, Mooloolaba.