We took a look into how solar currently sits in the market, how to approach project planning and development, including challenges that may arise, and innovative solutions for solar projects.

Solar continues to be the cheapest form of new energy generation, and Australia has a great solar resource. We’re deploying renewables approximately ten times faster than the global average too.

There are a number of reasons businesses choose solar projects. Solar can drive down overall energy costs, especially for business operating during the day, and can also help businesses meet sustainability goals. Businesses planning to develop their own solar projects should start by looking at their energy requirements, historical demand, and future plans. Having a clear objective in planning stages can determine the success of the end project. 

Businesses should also know how they plan to fund the project too. If the project is larger and may impact local communities, it’s also important to be aware of any shutdowns to the business or impacts to the area. While there are many things to consider, solar is an essential way for businesses to push the transition to clean energy and a net-zero carbon future.

Our panel of experts were on hand to answer questions from the webinar and provide some useful tips when planning a solar project. Check them out below.

Q&A
With more frequent negative spot price events in the NEM, are battery storage systems likely to become an essential feature of new solar project developments?

While negative spot price events can be well publicised, they remain an exceptional occurrence rather than a market feature. 

Australia is considered as one of the world’s top markets for the uptake of battery storage in the future as it has some of the world’s best renewable resources and an energy market which is among the most carbon intensive and expensive. For this reason, most solar project developers include a future battery in their planning approval process, helping to make their project ‘battery-ready’ for the future. 

While the economic case for utility-scale battery storage projects remains challenging, there are some great government funding initiatives that have helped batteries get into the market, and programs to help the next wave. Battery storage looks to be similar to solar in the way it started with government incentives, and we may find that it will become an essential feature in the future.

With supply chain delays related to COVID-19 and the additional costs incurred as a result, do you believe Australia will shift to on-shore manufacturing of PV modules?

In terms of procurement, that all seems to be back on track. The supply side of solar is overtaking demand rightnow for a lot of manufacturers. While the market had feared lengthy COVID-19 related delays, the longer lead times have reduced much quicker than people had anticipated. 

We have also seen a move towards the increased use of local subcontractors and contractors to assist with projects too.

Is a Marginal Loss Factor (MLF) report completely necessary to see the impact of a new build? What are the ways that MLF risk can be curtailed with developing solar projects?

If you’re developing a sub five-megawatt project, you get a sign from the nearest node MLF for loads. For projects greater than five megawatt you will get assigned a project specific MLF book.

Loss factors are a balancing act and form one of the key parts of your financial model. This is something you need to be comfortable with.

What are the pros and cons of buying land versus leasing land for your project?

There’s no right or wrong answers when it comes to buying or leasing land for a project. Each project is different.

A large part of this decision comes down to the financial model.How does buying versus leasing fit within the model? 

Ask yourself,  are getting a better price for the lease? If so, can you inject funds into the project thanks to lower upfront costs or is it beneficial to your model to buy the land and have the benefits of ownership? 

If you’re leasing, there’s fewer upfront costs that go into your financial model, and your financing process. 

If you purchase the land, you will have complete control, making it easier to manage, as you will not require permissions from the land owner.

 

In case you missed it, check out the webinar below.

 

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