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Sep, 2014

Derisking investment in commercial solar power

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All investments carry risks, and often that goes hand in hand with the rewards.

With solar power, our goal is to analyse your situation, predict the savings and benefit from solar, install the system, and manage the ongoing performance of the system. In short, our goal is to maximise and stabilise your returns.

We call this derisking.

Derisking is a term used commonly in investments and venture capital.

When investing in a business, it is the process of identifying and eliminating risks from all sources – internal and external – market, regulation, the strength of the team, entry to new competition, protection of IP etc.

With an investment in solar, while not as complex as investing in a business, it is  still an investment, and there are still variabilities, and therefore risks.

Here’s a few considerations to make and ask yourself, “Who bears the risk from this uncertainty?”

–          Changes in exchange rates between purchase and installation affecting the cost of  the system

–          Changes in the value of the STCs

–          Risks associated with a poor financial prediction about the system production

–          Risks associated with poor system design compromising the system output

–          Risks associated with poor WHS practices on site

–          Potential rises in price due to lack of clarity  over scope

–          Costs due to ignorance about compliance and grid connection costs (which may be  up to $10,000 in some areas)

One of the characteristics of solar power is that the output is invisible. And, because solar is not your single source of power, if it is failing then you will still have power. Other than a monitoring system there will be no visible failing.

Some examples we see where these things have happened, or are waiting to happen are:

–          Modelling predicting unrealistic power price rises per year – therefore creating a false expectation of the returns from solar

–          System output predictions based on guesses and wishful thinking rather than science.

–          Systems not working, or significantly underperforming

–          Modelling predicting large kVA offset (peak demand) from solar

–          Systems installed in shaded areas

–          Systems installed with panels facing in sub optimal positions

–          Systems wired incorrectly

–          Panel choices based on price rather than performance

–          Panels installed in such a manner that the warranty is void

–          Lack of monitoring systems

–          System installers going out of business and failing to support their clients.

These things happen because solar is a relatively young industry. It has been around for a while, but the growth has mushroomed in the last 5 years. Therefore, while we have been a lot of panels on roofs, we have not yet seen some of the consequences of poor installations or products.

What we are saying is: make the right choice. A system might be an investment of $50,000 to $200,000 and you deserve to see the financial returns you expected. Don’t make your investment a dice roll.

Get our guide here to see a complete checklist.

Guide to Commercial Solar