23 May 2013 — Conergy has commissioned a 100 kiloWatt solar plant, installed at a newly constructed retirement/nursing home in Brisbane, that operates without any feed-in tariff and will save the operator $16,000 a year in bills, in a project it says signals grid parity.

The home, Casa d’Amore, consumes the entire solar electricity produced itself, with about 400 Conergy PowerPlus modules on the 640 square metre roof surface are producing 146 megawatt hours of solar power.

That’s about a third of the entire electricity the home requires.

The load profile of the home is perfect for solar power, because demand peaks are between 10 am and 1pm and between 4 pm and 6 pm, the company said.

As well, the high insolation values of around 1400 kiloWatt hours per square metre per year ensure that solar power is competitive in Queensland.

The levelised cost of electricity of the solar plant, calculated for a 25-year period, is just under 13 cents per kiloWatt hour, while the cost that the home has to pay for electricity from the grid is around 15 Australian cents per kilowatt hour.

It has been calculated that the operator will be saving $16,000 on electricity bills each year.

Conergy Australia managing director David McCallum said with solar becoming competitive many more markets were opening up.

“In many cases solar electricity is already competitive, not just in Europe but also in the Asia Pacific region, particularly when there is a high and relatively steady demand for electricity during the day,” he said.

“In Australia, solar also represents a cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative in remote areas, some of which have to rely on diesel generators for their power.

“But our project at the retirement home shows that there is also enormous potential for solar power in the cities, because by running their own plants, companies as well as end customers reduce their exposure to rising electricity prices, saving hard cash every single day.”

Mr McCallum said the Australian Government had committed to maintaining its Renewable Energy Target of 41,000 gigaWatt hours of renewable energy to be added to the country’s electricity grids by 2020.

The target is split into two parts – the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target and the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme. Both create incentives for investments in renewable energy sources through green certificates, aiming to increase the contribution of renewable energy to the nation’s energy mix, he said

“Electricity retailers, utilities or energy-intensive companies are required to purchase and surrender a certain amount of green certificates each year which are currently traded at around $24,” he said.

“The solar power plant on the “Casa d’Amore” falls under the SRES scheme and receives one Small-scale Technology Certificate per megawatt hour produced each year over the course of up to 15 years as determined in the scheme.

“Experts expect a relatively consistent annual growth of around 20 per cent between now and 2015. Thanks to solar power becoming competitive, the Australian market will move away from being a purely investment driven market and become part of the genuine energy market, where the main criteria are electricity availability and the price per kiloWatt hour.”

2 replies on “Conergy hits grid parity in retirement home”

  1. We are consulting engineers in Sydney and are currently designing the electrcial installation for a 60 bed nursing home and are looking for ways to reduce our client’s energy costs.

    Can you let us know the size of the Casa d’Amore facility and whether if it is naturally ventilated or air conditioned.

    I look forward to seeing your response.

    Bruce Kennedy

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