Category Archives: 2021

Lane Cove Council’s Solar for Business Program

100% Renewables is assisting Lane Cove Council with the development and implementation of a solar feasibility program for business. The aim is to help local businesses take decisions to install solar PV at their premises. Council has feasibility funding available in the current financial year, and is aiming to see a number of commercial solar systems installed by the end of the financial year resulting from the program.

A key barrier to many businesses implementing solar is access to information, and in particular access to information they can trust. Council and independent expertise are seen as good sources of credible information in this regard.

A key challenge for a program to assist business to make decisions armed with sound information is cost, specifically being able to engage business, perform accurate analysis and provide a sound and independent business case for solar.

Through our solar feasibility assessments, development of specifications & procurement advice, and through implementation of sustainability programs for small business, 100% Renewables has refined our processes, aimed at reaching as many businesses as possible while providing sound advice that owners can act on.

Solar for Business Program – Lane Cove Council

Lane Cove Council’s “Solar for Business Program” is a free Council initiative to assist commercial and industrial businesses reduce their energy consumption, resulting in potentially thousands of dollars of savings per year. The aim of the Program is to assist businesses reduce their energy costs by providing a complimentary solar PV feasibility report. By joining the program, businesses will receive independent expert advice and an energy analysis and a solar feasibility study to identify opportunities to lower operating costs through installing solar panels.

Benefits of going solar

Reduced electricity bills

We will work closely with businesses in Lane Cove to understand their daytime and weekend energy consumption, as well as their building and electrical systems, so that we can develop a solar PV system that will be feasible for their business. Commercial buildings tend to benefit from installing solar PV mainly due to daytime business hours aligning with the solar array’s energy output. This ensures a reduction in total energy consumption, which reduces a business’ electricity bills.

Low maintenance costs and reliability

Solar PV systems are simple solutions that capture free energy from the sun for use in your property. Apart from basic annual maintenance, solar PV systems should continue to produce clean energy for over 25 years. Furthermore, most solar panels available in the industry have been certified to withstand different weather conditions, ensuring continuous reliability throughout its lifetime.

Financial advantages

By installing a solar system, your firm can minimise exposure to changes to grid electricity prices over time. Moreover, any excess generation from your system could be fed back to the grid and may attract a ‘feed-in’ rate from your electricity supplier, which is an additional revenue stream. Our report analyses the financial savings from installing a solar system, so that you can clearly see the payback to your business and the total savings over the life of the system.

Businesses can claim government incentives such as small-scale technology and large-scale generation certificates, making your investment financially attractive. For small systems less than 100 kW, your government credit is provided as an up-front discount, making a solar PV system cheaper to install.

Improvements in technology

The price of solar panels has fallen dramatically over the last decade with constant improvement in solar panel efficiency. This means you can harvest more renewable energy per panel, meaning you may still be able to save money even if you have a small roof space. We have also seen an improvement with power conversion units (inverters), which play a vital role in producing maximum energy output from your solar PV system at any point in time.

Environmental awareness

By committing to sustainability, you become a valued business in society. Through solar system installations, you grow your environmental credentials as well as save money, which would be highly regarded among your clients. Moreover, solar panels provide a great visual statement about your commitment to the environment. Your business will also play an integral role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing your reliance on grid energy.

Who should apply?

We are looking for all commercial and industrial building owners and tenants that are committed to reducing their energy use and saving on operating costs. We encourage applications from all sizes of buildings, from small retail premises through to large warehouses with high energy bills.

We invite interested business owners and tenants in the Lane Cove LGA to submit an expression of interest. Successful applications will be those whose applications demonstrate high likelihood of implementing solar PV where this is shown to be cost-effective. Council is also interested in developing case studies for buildings who install solar as a result of the Program.

How can we help?

If you think your business could benefit from this program, please send an email to leslie@100percentrenewables.com.au or Complete the Solar for Business program expression of interest form.

Webform for registering your interest for a solar feasibility study sponsored by Lane Cove Council
Figure 1: Webform for registering your interest for a solar feasibility study sponsored by Lane Cove Council

To find out more, please visit www.lanecove.nsw.gov.au/solarforbusiness

 

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their climate change strategies and action plans, and supporting the implementation and achievement of ambitious targets. If you need help to develop your Climate Change Strategy, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.

Revolving Energy Funds – why you need one and using an Excel tool to model the outcome [with video]

In a previous blog post we released in 2017, I wrote about how to set up a Revolving Energy Fund or REF, also known as a ‘Green Revolving Fund’ or ‘Sustainability Revolving Fund’.

In this blog post, I will dive deeper into Revolving Energy Funds. I will talk about what they are, how to operate them, what their benefits are and how to model the financial outcome using an Excel tool we developed.

As part of the Sustainable Councils and Communities and Sustainability Advantage programs, 100% Renewables was commissioned to develop a set of resources to assist councils to pitch, design, develop, implement and manage a successful Revolving Energy Fund (REF). I had the pleasure to present the resources we developed in a webinar which was hosted by the New South Wales Government. Kelly Williamson from Campbelltown City Council also shared her experience in setting up Council’s Revolving Energy Fund.

Barbara Albert presenting at a webinar about Revolving Energy Funds
Figure 1: Barbara Albert presenting at a webinar about Revolving Energy Funds

Here is what was discussed in the webinar:

What are Revolving Energy Funds?

A Revolving Energy Fund (REF) is a self-sustaining funding mechanism, which you start with seed capital that you invest in sustainability projects, such as energy efficiency, water conservation, or solar projects for example. The fund’s unique feature is that you return savings from sustainability projects back into the REF to finance the next round of investments. In this way, you can spend funds multiple times to drive emissions reduction, resource and cost savings.

Revolving Energy Fund - funding cycle
Figure 2: Revolving Energy Fund – funding cycle

Three benefits of a Revolving Energy Fund

Here are three benefits of implementing a REF to finance your climate action plan.

Benefit 1 – Responds to climate change

Implementing a REF addresses a strategic priority for business. More and more organisations are committing to ambitious targets such as net-zero emissions, or 100% renewable energy. As the need to decarbonise increases, the need for innovative financing to enable cost-saving efficiency and renewable energy projects increases in importance.

Benefit 2 – Results in faster implementation

By re-investing and tracking energy cost savings, organisations can more quickly realise the full financial returns from investing in efficiency and renewables.

Benefit 3 – Easier to finance projects

Sustainability projects are often capital-intensive and potentially ‘not core business’, making these projects challenging to implement when compared with other investment options that improve a business. Having a dedicated REF makes it easier to finance sustainability projects.

How to operate a Revolving Energy Fund

You always need to start a REF with seed capital. How much you inject initially may depend on the number and size of opportunities in your climate action strategy, but clearly the more you put in, the more projects you can fund, and the more self-sustaining the financing cycle will be.

In addition to seed capital, you may also consider putting in top-up funds in subsequent years to make sure the fund does not run out of money, which can lead to a loss of momentum in implementing your climate action strategy. You may also look for grant funding opportunities or other incentives to help build and sustain a REF.

Whatever money is in the fund can be used to finance sustainability projects such as solar, lighting or air conditioning upgrades. These projects come with resource and associated cost savings, and in line with the design intent of a REF, part of the savings are returned to the fund to be invested in new initiatives.

The proportion of savings returned to the fund, and for how long, will affect the fund’s financial health and sustainability. You can simulate the performance of your REF in the Excel tool we’ve developed, balancing seed capital, top-up funds, grants and returned savings to ensure there are always enough funds available in the REF to implement your pipeline of projects. This is illustrated in Figure 3 below.

How to operate a Revolving Energy Fund
Figure 3: How to operate a Revolving Energy Fund

REF modelling tool

To help organisations model the financial outcome of implementing a REF, we developed an easy-to-use Excel tool. The REF tool can help you simulate the performance of the fund for your assessed sustainability projects and determine the required amount of money to achieve a cash-positive scenario.

You can use the tool to:

  • Input a list of projects with costs and savings that the REF is intended to help finance
  • Estimate the total funding needed to finance projects based on their expected year of implementation
  • Forecast how a portfolio of projects will perform
  • Help with planning and budgeting

Here are a couple of screenshots of the tool:

Set up your Revolving Energy Fund, such as the amount of seed capital and regular top-ups
Figure 4: Set up your Revolving Energy Fund, such as the amount of seed capital and regular top-ups
Input your projects, along with their costs and expected resource savings
Figure 5: Input your projects, along with their costs and expected resource savings
Analyse how your inputs affect the balance of the Revolving Energy Fund
Figure 6: Analyse how your inputs affect the balance of the Revolving Energy Fund

I have prepared a video to demonstrate how this tool works. The 10-min clip starts with an overview of Revolving Energy Funds and then dives into the use of our REF tool.

Three critical success factors

Revolving Energy Funds are a great tool to finance your climate action strategy, but you should be mindful of the following critical success factors:

  1. Get senior management commitment to emissions reduction over the long term: With senior management support and commitment to achieving long-term emissions reductions, the REF is likely to be better supported over the long term. A REF policy with commitment to support this with funds and resources to help meet ambitious climate action targets is one way to secure long term senior support.
  2. Make sure you always have enough money in the fund: a viable REF has enough cashflow in and out of the fund to implement projects that contribute to achieving your targets. Getting the balance right between initial funds, grants, top-up funds and savings returned to the fund versus savings returned to general funds is critical to success.
  3. Set up the fund with an appropriate governance structure: Like other funding, a REF should be functional, transparent and auditable. It is recommended that you develop REF documentation setting out how the fund will be managed, establish clear project eligibility and selection criteria, as well as how savings will be measured and re-invested back into the REF. You should also set up a REF management committee, and assign accountability of the fund to a manager.

If you are considering a Revolving Energy Fund and want to avoid any pitfalls in setting it up optimally, please contact us for help.

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their climate action strategies and plans, and supporting the implementation and achievement of ambitious targets. If you need help to create your Climate Change Strategy, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

Feel free to use an excerpt of this blog on your own site, newsletter, blog, etc. Just send us a copy or link and include the following text at the end of the excerpt: “This content is reprinted from 100% Renewables Pty Ltd’s blog.