Retail resiliency with solar
There is no question that the retail sector is surviving a market-shaping period. Consumer behaviour has literally changed overnight with rapid technology adoption and the digital acceleration of generations of consumers.
In modern retail facilities, the traditional challenges remain – maintaining store ambience and appearance, attracting customers, tenant retention, compressed margins, reducing operational risks, and improving profitability and efficiency.
Digital differentiation, supply chain resiliency amid disruption, health and safety strategies for staff and customers, and implementing cost structure realignment can now be added to the list. The ongoing economic effects from the pandemic, means that modern retailers are considering not only the challenges, but also where key investments will help them stand out from the competition.
The retail sector is one of the most energy-intensive industries in Australia, accounting for 50% of energy use in the commercial property market and 5% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. Lighting, HVAC, refrigeration and mechanical services require substantial loads, and the retail sector has had considerable success from investing significantly in upgrading these services.
The use of both onsite and offsite solar PV to power retail outlets is increasingly common, and solar PV is particularly viable for those businesses with high amounts of daytime load and large roof areas. Large energy users like Shopping Centres are also seeking to enter Power Purchase Agreements or adding Microgrid as a Service to purchase electricity at wholesale rates.
Solar is a sound and practical investment for retail building owners and facility managers and benefits include:
- Retailers large roof surface is ideal for solar PV installation.
- Retailers mostly operate during daylight hours with a constant load profile, daylight electricity demand can be offset from solar generation, creating significant cost savings.
- Building owners that invest in solar can create new income steam selling solar energy to tenants. Tenants can purchase solar energy at a cost less than grid electricity prices.
- Tenants may elect to finance a solar installation and enjoy the benefits of a lower cost of energy for the term of their lease agreement.
- Innovative finance models such as Power Purchase Agreement or Microgrid as a Service with no initial capital outlay to enjoy electricity at wholesale rates
- Solar helps internal sustainability goals and reduce carbon footprint.
- Solar is a low-risk strategy to reduced operating costs.
“We’ve been cash flow positive from day one which is an amazing situation for us”
James Sturges, Llewellyn Motors.