Solar savings

Solar savings allow business to innovate

by Angus Jones

As businesses transition out of a challenging 2020, some NSW-based small businesses invest in solar and use the savings to innovate and undertake business improvements.

Solar cooking

With payback periods plummeting to around two years, companies can use the savings generated from solar energy not only to improve their bottom line but to invest in new initiatives. One company doing just this is Cooks Confectionery. One of Australia’s leading confectionery companies, which produces premium quality chocolate, toffee and nut products for wholesalers and retail outlets.

Based in Albion Park near Shellharbour, Cooks is a family-owned business that moved to its current site in 2004 and expanded to include a toffee plant and chocolate facility. The production of chocolate is high in energy with the need to refine it for 10-12 hours, motors on for the same amount of time and heaters working for 24 hours.

Daniel Lezcano, Managing Director, said that given the size of their power bill, it was a no-brainer to look at installing solar on the roof of their 1000 M² property. 

The company reached out to several providers and chose Energus based on price and its strong track record.  Keen to have as many solar panels as possible on the roof, the company decided to install its 70kw system in July 2020.

Thomas Bell, Sales Director, Energus, said, “We were very pleased to see that the huge reduction in energy costs enabled the company to double its shifts. Even with the introduction of the second shift and operations spanning from 6 am to 10 pm, the company’s energy bill stayed the same, thereby saving them $10K/quarter.” 

“We effectively doubled production without increasing our energy costs, “said Lezcano.

The 52.2MWh of energy produced in the first 6 months since installation is enough to dry 49,671 kilos of laundry or boil 645,230 litres of water.

Bell commented that Energus has seen a significant increase in solar from companies of all sizes as they look to save on power costs, reduce emissions and use the savings to invest in other parts of the business. This was particularly evident during the pandemic and has continued in 2021.

Solar Printing

Other companies investing in solar and undertaking innovation in their operations include CBS Printing, a family-owned and operated business providing commercial printing, design, and distribution services to the Macarthur area for over 40 years. CBS Printing decided to install over 260 solar panels on the 1300sqm roof of its Smeaton Grange factory in September 2018 and has since saved almost $30,000 on energy costs. 

In 2020, the panels produced 96.8MWh of energy, which is enough to use a computer for 841,562 hours or make 1,935,594 pieces of toast.

Director, Stephen Wilson, said the decision to convert to solar was easy after calculating the company’s return on investment to be under 5 years.

Wilson said the company has expanded its extensive range of printing and fulfilment services over the past 12 months to adapt to challenges experienced due to COVID-19. CBS Printing has started producing ready-meal food packaging, which has seen a spike in demand since the start of the pandemic.

This decision to innovate and produce a new product has helped offset a downturn in business from regular clients who were unable to operate due to COVID-19 restrictions and reflects the same forward-thinking that inspired the company to go solar.

In addition to its financial benefits, Wilson says the decision to convert to solar energy was an important step toward developing sustainable business practices.

Wilson said that the statistics provided to CBS Printing by Energus reinforce the company’s decision to go solar when they see the energy and financial savings the solar installation is achieving. 

Also see Small Business Answers guide on getting a better electricity deal.

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