30kW commercial solar power installations and solar farms

30kW commercial solar power installations and solar farms: Pricing, output, and returns

by James Martin II on 31 July, 2012

in Commercial solar power,Solar Farms

30kW solar power systems are becoming an increasingly worthwhile investment for small to medium businesses across Australia, thanks to the falling price of solar power systems, and rising electricity prices. This article provides an overview of the ranges of prices, power yields (in kWh), and financial returns that a business may expect to see from a typical 30kW solar PV system.

Pricing ranges 30kW solar PV systems

The cost of solar PV (photovoltaics) technology has dropped globally, thanks mainly to government incentive schemes and a huge increase in the number of solar panels coming from China over the recent years. The competition between manufacturers as well as between system installers that has come about from these trends has managed to bring down the market price of solar PV systems by around 45% per year. Some even speculate that a solar revolution is underway both here in Australia and internationally.

In Australia, the retail price of a standard solar PV system installation of reasonable quality is just above $2 per watt, after federal government solar rebates are accounted for. This means that at the time of writing, the cost of such a 30kW solar system hovers at around $65,000–around a quarter of what it would have been 4 years ago.

Prices for solar PV installations have a wide range, however. A 30kW solar PV system using lower quality components will cost less, while premium offerings will be on the higher end of the price scale.

30kW solar system output

Depending on a number of factors, the actual power output of a 30kW solar power system will vary. These variables include:

-Geographical location of the system and the expected daily and annual solar irradiation and cloud cover levels there

Orientation and tilt angle of the solar panel array

Whether there is any shade cast on the panels

-Actual operating temperature of the panels

-Whether solar panel array capacity is accurately matched to inverter capacity

-The performance of the individual components–i.e. the panels and the inverter

As mentioned above, different regions receive varying amounts of solar irradiation. The amount of sunshine falling on a solar panel array has a direct impact on the system’s power output. A properly orientated solar system in Australia can expect to receive around an annual average of 4 hours of ‘peak sun’ (peak sun hours, or PSH) per day, although–for example–Tasmania sees less sunlight than this, and Broome, WA receives some of the most sun in the country. This is only the annual average per day; it is key to remember that the sun shines for longer in the summer months and less in the winter.

For example, a perfectly efficient 30kW solar system in Sydney would produce about (3PSH x 30kW =) 90kWh of power on a day in the middle of winter, whereas in the summer output from the same 30kW solar PV system would be around (5PSH x 30kW =) 150kWh. (Figures are approximate only.)

30kW solar system returns

Like the output of the system itself, returns from a 30kW solar system will depend on a number of factors, including whether the solar power can be sold back to the grid and at what the rate. The rate paid for selling power back into the grid is generally referred to as a Solar Feed-in Tariff, but these do not apply in the case of large-scale systems in most states and territories. Generally speaking, businesses opt to go solar with the intention of offsetting their power bills by using electricity from their solar systems while the sun is shining as opposed to purchasing it from the electrical grid.

Another key factor in how a 20kW solar PV system can save its owner/operator money is how the system is financed. There are many models for financing available. Solar Choice Commercial manages large-scale solar PV tenders for a range of clients and offers a unique commercial solar PV financing package that enables the right customers to set up a solar farm or other large-scale installation with no capital expenditure.

Learn more about Solar Choice’s commercial activities.

© 2012 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

James Martin II

James Martin II

Communications Manager at Solar Choice
James has been Solar Choice's primary writer & researcher since 2010. He lives in Newcastle in a house with a weird solar system.
James Martin II

{ 2 comments }

Ian 16 November, 2012 at 11:03 am

I am not sure where they get the figure of 3 Peak Solar Hours per day on average from as the Commonwealth Government puts out stats on this that the BOM have provided and constantly re analyse – the Commonwealth figure for average solar sun hours per day in Sydney is 5.1. An examination of the stats provided by manufacturers also indicates there are only split hairs in the so called “premium” brands and the rest. In many cases there is no difference and it is only perception and marketing that provides this illusion to the general public. All this really does do is allow companies to optimise profit. As long as the warranty CAN be honoured and that the company manufacturing and supplying the warranty is sound is perhaps the main thing.

Solar Choice 19 November, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Hi Ian,

I think there is potentially a difference between the Peak Solar Hours mentioned and the average daily sunshine we normally use when talking about the expected generation of solar PV systems. With regard to Premium products and manufacturers versus less premium products, although it may not seem a lot on the surface an extra 2% will add up to a huge saving over the lifetime of the system and as energy prices continue to rise this 2% extra will bring greater rewards. Premium companies who take the time to give people and extra 2% will also be putting out panels that have passed durability tests that far exceed the minimum standards, some even offer a 25 warranty which includes minimum performance standards over the lifetime of the panel.

These Premium installers also have a genuine concern that when the poor quality cheap solar PV systems fail their will be a backlash against the industry, we would also prefer that everyone has a positive experience with solar. Solar Choice exists to ensure that residential and commercial customers are getting the best deal with their solar PV systems and working with installers and manufacturers who are more likely to go the distrance than those offering cheap solar deals.

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