Commercial Solar Adelaide: Understanding your options

Adelaide Airport 1.17mW solar panel installation

Despite being on the south side of Australia, Adelaide and the rest of South Australia is classified as STC Zone 3, meaning businesses are able to access the same rebate value as businesses in Queensland and Western Australia. As you will see, this is because solar power systems in South Australia have a high yield from plentiful sunlight which is how the government’s Small Scale Technology Certificate (STC) rebate is determined.

How much energy will Commercial Solar Panels in Adelaide produce?

Based on Solar Choice’s analysis of 30 years of historical sunlight irradiance data from the Bureau of Meteorology, we can see that Adelaide typically receives 4.8 sun hours on average per day. After factoring in a typical solar power system efficiency (conservatively at 80%) that means for each 10 kilowatts (kW) of solar panel capacity installed – a solar power system will generate 3.9 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy. This is an annual average so the figure will be higher in summer and lower in winter.

Actual energy yields will vary depending on location, orientation & tilt angle and components used.  The below table outlines the expected out from some typical solar commercial solar system sizes.

Solar System Size Average Daily Generation (kWh) Annual Solar Generation (kWh) Assumed Rate Paid by Business Annual Savings (assumes 70% self-consumption)
10kW 39 14,235 $0.35 per kWh $3,488
39kW 152.1 55,517 $0.28 per kWh $10,881
70kW 273 99,645 $0.22 per kWh $15,345
100kW 390 142,350 $0.18 per kWh $17,936
500kW 1950 711,750 $0.15 per kWh $74,734

This figures are indicative only and don’t take into consideration your business’s circumstances. Solar Choice’s engineers can provide a free independent assessment review your energy bills and provide a detailed summary of the optimal system size, expected savings through the life of the project and a quote comparison from leading installers. Click the link below to get started.

Request a free solar business case from Solar Choice


Connecting Commercial Solar Systems to the grid in South Australia

Electricity grid power poles and wires

All solar power systems need to be approved by South Australia Power Networks (SAPN) who are the state-wide distributed network service provider. SAPN own the electrical infracture (poles and wires) in Adelaide and are responsible for assessing the impact of additional generation systems that are to be connected. Depending on the size of the system the connection process will vary:

Solar Power Systems under 30kW

For small commercial systems that are less than 10kW per phase, there is a streamlined and no cost application process with SAPN. A Clean Energy Counil accredited installer can complete this process in around 10 minutes – so you will need to assess quotes and find a preferred supplier first.

Based on Solar Choice’s experience allow 10 business days to receive invitation to connect

Solar Power Systems between 30kW and 200kW

For systems larger than 30kW there is a more stringent review process by SAPN and additional requirements for the design of the solar system. For all Solar Power Systems with an inverter rated 30kVA or larger there will be an application cost required with SAPN and a minimum requirement to install a Grid Protection Unit (GPU). There may be additional requirements such as export limiting that may arise as part of SAPN’s assessment. As a result, systems with a 39kW DC (solar panel rating) with a 30kVA inverter are very common to streamline the application process and avoid additional costs which don’t provide any benefits to the business.

Based on Solar Choice’s experience allow 4 to 8 weeks to receive invitation to connect

Solar Power Systems over 200kW

Solar Panel Systems over 200kW in inverter capacity are subject to the have the same requirements as systems over 30kVA and are subject to an Engineering Report undertaken by SAPN. Following this report, larger systems are often subject to specific design requirement of export limitation or the requirement to install SCADA network protection which can affect the ROI of a project. It is important to deal with a qualified and established solar provider for these projects with experience navigating these requirements.

Based on Solar Choice’s experience allow 2 to 3 months to receive invitation to connect

Commercial solar system pricing in Adelaide and South Australia

Solar Choice has pre-vetted a network of commercial solar installers across Australia over the last 12 years. As part of our service, we collect accurate price, product and warranty information from all of our network installers that can be shared with our commercial clients based on the size and complexity of their project. Solar Choice also publishes average commercial solar prices by city and system size – visit our Commercial Solar Price Index for a full summary.

 Indicative Commercial Solar Prices*
Adelaide, SA$12,880$34,580$58,050$79,590$96,830

* Note these figures include GST and the STC benefit available under the federal government rebate

For pricing above 100kW the price per watt increases as the upfront rebate is no longer available – contact Solar Choice to get some indicative pricing for larger scale projects. Historically we have also observed ~40% decline in the cost of a fully installed commercial solar PV system in the last 5 years following significant improvements in Solar Panel efficiency and the increase scale of production.

Commerical Solar Prices

Figure 1 – Extract from Solar Choice Commercial Price Index

Compare quotes from leading commercial installers via the Solar Choice Portal

Adelaide Financing Options for Commercial Solar

There are a number of different ways to finance a solar system in Australia which can provide a cash flow positive solution from day one with no upfront costs. The 3 most common options are detailed in the below table.

Type Description Typical Terms
Chattel Mortgage
  • Solar system becomes colateral for loan
  • Full ownership (and depreciation benefits) from day one
3% to 6%


2 to 10 years

Rent to Own (operating lease)
  • Solar system is ‘rented’ to business for certain term meaning repayments are deductible
  • Current tax rules deem that asset is on balance sheet
  • Business makes an offer to buy at end of term (usually 2 months of repayments) to acquire asset
3% to 6%


2 to 10 years

Power Purchase Agreement
  • Business pays only for the energy produced by solar at a lower rate than what they are paying their retailer
  • Responsibility to maintain the asset remains with ppa provider through term of agreement
  • Only financing method where asset is off balance sheet
  • Learn more about PPAs and see an example
8c per kWh to 15c per kWh


7 to 30 years

Read our balanced assessment of the pros and cons of each financing method and a detailed example.

3 things  to get right in a Commercial Solar Project

Commercial solar projects follow more rigorous procurement processes and it is important to ensure you have a robust approach that will lead to a great solar investment.

1. Independent financial model to confirm feasibility and ROI

While the environmental benefits of solar projects are clear, most commercial solar projects come down to an evaluation of the financial attractiveness of the project. The financial model for these projects should be developed by experienced photovoltaic engineers who are not trying to sell you a particular solution. Solar Choice offers a free service where any business can receive a customised Solar business case developed agnostically to products, brands and financing arrangements.

2. Get a range of quotes from qualified, reputable solar installers

The best way to ensure you getting a competitive and innovation solution for your project is to engage a number of high quality solar installers with relevant experience. We often hear about projects going wrong where installers are selected on the wrong criteria and insufficient due diligence has been completed on the winning contractor. Solar Choice has developed a pre-vetted network around Australia since 2008 including all major, reputable commercial installers – talk to us about running a tender for your project.

3. Understanding the federal rebates

Commercial solar prices are at all-time lows in Australia, partially due to the federal government solar subsidies available through Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET). For solar systems up to 100kW of Solar PV, the RET provides an up-front incentive in the form of Small-scale Technology Certificates (STCs). For systems larger than 100kW, the RET provides an ongoing incentive (until 2030) in the form of Large-scale Technology Certificates (LGCs).

Request a free solar business case and compare leading commercial installers

Since 2008 Solar Choice has consulted with over 3,000 businesses around Australia and helped develop over 800MW solar commercial and solar farm projects.

Jeff Sykes