Around the world, governments, communities and businesses are acknowledging that the need to operate sustainably and take steps to mitigate the risks of climate change has never been greater.
Groups of all types and sizes are investing in renewable energy to help reduce their environmental impact.
Major cities including Singapore, London and New York are installing solar panels wherever they can. Tiny settlements like fishing village Tai O on Hong Kong’s Lantau Island and the remote First Nation community of Cat Lake in Ontario, Canada, are using solar to cut their reliance on diesel fuel and other non-renewable energy sources.
In Australia, almost half of large public and private companies are actively using renewable energy while a significant number are only considering its use, a recent study by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) found.
Local councils and community groups are investing millions of dollars in renewable energy projects, with one in five Australian councils surveyed by the Climate Council aiming for “100% renewable energy” or “zero emissions”.
For example, Sunshine Coast Council installed a 15MW solar farm and now uses renewables for 100% of its energy consumption and now Lismore in northern NSW is shifting to solar power aiming to rely on renewables for all of its energy consumption by 2023.
WALGA, the peak body for all Local Governments in Western Australia, is leading the way for its members, having installed solar panels on its new, purpose-built office facility in West Leederville. The system generates 30 per cent of the building’s power requirements.
WALGA represents 139 Local Governments in Western Australia, with 1,300 elected members, more than 11,000 employees, 2.2 million constituents and a turnover of more than $3 billion per annum. It delivers business services, develops commercial ventures and procures high value aggregated supply contracts for goods and services for the local governments it serves.
“WALGA is now operating the largest office building solar power system in Perth,” said Nick Wood, Executive Manager, Business Solutions at WALGA. “This is a significant achievement, which supports our strategic commitment to best practice in environmental sustainability.”
There is a strong business case for implementing solar and other renewable energy projects, particularly in the face of rising electricity prices, but cost is a hurdle for many organisations. However, alternative capital solutions can often help.
For WALGA, the primary challenge was finding a way to finance the project which would meet its needs, while avoiding time consuming, complex processes.
Alleasing worked with WALGA to come up with a suitable way to finance its solar power system. Where some funders may try to sell in a ‘one size fits all’ solution, we try to understand what an organisations challenges are and then build a solution to fix the problem.
The lease was structured to ensure energy savings achieved through the project funded the new, sustainable technology and made the project cash flow positive relatively early in the lease period. The lease was also structured to enable milestone payments to the supplier throughout the build phase.
The Alleasing team managed the project locally, which enabled the seamless integration of the WALGA project team, the supplier and the finance.
Integrating solar helped WALGA’s office building achieve a 5 Star Green Star and 5 Star NABERS energy ratings and has allowed the not-for-profit organisation to provide strong leadership to the Local Governments it represents.
If small communities can implement and use solar power, then so can your organisation. Start now before energy prices become too big an issue to handle.