Insights from industry

How Origin’s Solar Power Purchase Agreement is helping more Businesses go Solar - An Interview with Phil Mackey



MR: Please can you give a brief introduction about Origin Energy, the company’s background and the services you provide?

PM: Origin Energy is the leading Australian integrated energy company with market leading positions in energy retailing (approximately 4.3 million customers), power generation (approximately 6,000 MW of capacity owned and contracted) and natural gas production (1,093 PJ of 2P reserves and annual production of 82 PJe).

To match its leadership in the supply of green energy, Origin also aspires to be the number one renewables company in Australia.

Origin provides a number of services which include electricity and natural gas, LPG, solar, home batteries, hot water, heating and cooling for residential and business customers.

MR: Why is there the need for businesses, especially manufacturing businesses to turn to solar power?

PM: Australian businesses within the manufacturing industry highlight energy costs as the second highest burden their businesses face behind raw material costs[i].

For businesses that operate energy intensive machinery or appliances during the day, solar generated energy provides a great way to save on their energy bills and to reduce their carbon footprint.

Solar is ideally suited to businesses with unshaded roof space, who plan to be in their premises for the long term and operate during the day.

MR: What impact does energy costs have on a manufacturing business?

PM: Manufacturers surveyed as part of research done by Origin said that their it is their second highest burden behind raw material costs, which would make their overheads rather high.[ii]

MR: Please give our readers an insight into Origin’s ‘Solar as a Service’? What does it mean for Manufacturing companies?

PM: Origin’s Solar as a Service allows customers to enjoy the benefits of low cost solar energy without having to make the capital investment into the solar system.

The service allows businesses to lock in a solar electricity rate for up to 15 years, protecting them against any possible future electricity price hikes, or they can choose a CPI indexed rate.

Origin’s Solar as a Service provides businesses with a simple way to save money on their energy bills by providing them with access to low cost solar energy at a lower price than they are presently paying for their grid energy.

Plus the business does not have to pay for the system or worry about ongoing maintenance as Origin owns the system and looks after all this.

This solution is ideal for businesses as it helps them achieve two important priorities - saving money and doing their bit for the environment.

MR: What is the difference between a business previously moving to Solar Energy and moving to ‘Solar as a Service’ with Origin?

PM: Traditionally if business customers wanted to get solar, they would have to purchase the solar system outright or under finance. Typically businesses would also hold the maintenance and monitoring obligations of the system.

Origin’s Solar as a Service allows customers to enjoy the benefits of low cost solar energy without having to make the capital investment into the solar system.

With Solar as a Service, the customer only pays for the electricity which is generated from the solar system and Origin takes care of the rest.

MR: What benefits will a business gain from going to ‘Solar as a Service’? Can you tell our readers about a business that has moved to ‘Solar as a Service’ and the benefits they have gained?

PM: Origin’s Solar as a Service provides business with a simple way to save money on their energy bills by providing them with access to low cost solar energy at a lower price than they are presently paying for their grid energy.

An example of a business that has moved to Solar as a Service is Filterfab, an industrial textile manufacturer for laundry and associated industries. Filterfab has recently signed up for a 15 year contract with Solar as a Service, and has been estimated to save $41,000 over that time with a 10kW system. They have also stated that being able to help improve the environment as a huge bonus for their company.

Another satisfied customer is Townsville Engineering who have installed an 80kW solar system that is generating a third of their energy needs at a rate much lower than what they are paying for electricity from the grid.

MR: What requirements need to be met in order to qualify for the scheme? What do businesses need to consider before going solar?

PM: Solar is ideally suited to businesses with unshaded roof space, who plan to be in their premises for the long term and operate during the day.

Every system is tailored to meet an individual businesses needs based on their day time energy use, the suitability and size of their roof space and their exsiting energy costs.

Customers are advised to call Origin and speak to one of our energy consultants to work out what solution is best for their needs.

MR: Who will be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of ‘Solar as a Service’ once it has been installed?

PM: Origin Energy is responsible for the installing, monitoring and maintaining the solar system for the duration of the agreement.

MR: For a business that transitions to ‘Solar as a Service’, what long-term benefits will they see in 10-15 years?

PM: Origin’s Solar as a Service helps companies to cross two things off their list: saving energy bill costs and doing their bit for the environment

The amount that each business can save will depend on their daytime energy needs, roof space, the size of the system installed, the length of their Solar as a Service agreement as well as what happens more generally with retail electricity rates.

MR: What is in store for the future of Origin’s ‘Solar as a Service’?

PM: Solar as a Service (SaaS) has only been available to business customers for 12 months, and in that short period of time we have seen significant interest and growth in customers choosing their solution to the point that SaaS is now making up approximately 80 per cent of our solar sales.

In the past 3 months, we have exceeded over 1MW of solar sales to business each month.

As more business customers become aware of the benefits of Solar as a Service, we expect more and more businesses to make the switch.

MR: What does Origin’s ‘Solar as a Service’ and Solar PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) mean for the future of Solar Energy?

PM: By removing the need for any capital investment in the solar system and helping customers save on their energy costs from day one, Solar as a Service is a compelling proposition for businesses. As such, we expect that Solar as a Service will help contribute to a growth in the business solar market in coming years.

MR: Where can our readers go to find out more?

PM: Customers who are interested in learning more about Solar as a Service are encouraged to contact Origin for a discussions about their individual energy needs and obtain a personalised quote.

More information is also available on Origin’s website at https://www.originenergy.com.au/for-home/solar.html

https://www.originenergy.com.au/business/solar.html

About Phil Mackey  

Phil Mackey joined Origin in February 2000 as General Manager SLIVER Solar Technology and was appointed General Manager Solar & Emerging Businesses in 2014. In this role, Phil is responsible for Origin’s solar strategy and future business model, including establishing an innovative culture to launch new technologies and grow Origin's Australian and international solar business.

Phil has lived and worked in seven countries (Australia, France, India, Indonesia, PNG, Saudi Arabia, and the USA), and has extensive experience in the energy industry, primarily across solar, energy efficiency and upstream oil and gas.

Prior to joining Origin, Phil held roles with Santos and Schlumberger.

Phil has a Bachelor of Engineering, Mechanical Electrical from the University of Tasmania and a Master of Business Administration from the Australian Graduate School of Management.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

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