Allume Energy today announced the successful deployment of its initial U.S. shared solar energy technology and plans to bring its SolShare solution to all apartments, in particular within low-to-moderate income (LMI) communities across the U.S. By allowing multi-family buildings, including renters, to access the benefits of solar energy, Allume’s innovative technology could unlock widespread rooftop solar and provide a solution to energy equity. Given rising energy costs, growing concerns about climate change, and growing disparities in energy burdens, Allume’s SolShare could be the key to proliferating solar power adoption.
The number of U.S. homeowners who have installed solar panels has doubled since 2016, and 86% of Americans say they would welcome rooftop solar in their community. This is no surprise given that self-generated solar energy is one of the easiest solutions for standalone homeowners to reduce their energy bills, access renewable energy, and increase resilience to blackouts. Yet apartment owners and renters, who are more likely to be LMI earners, have historically been unable to access solar energy due to financial and technical considerations.
According to NREL, LMI households represent 42% of the U.S. population, and the U.S. Department of Energy notes that “low-income households face an energy burden three times higher than other households.” Additionally, NREL states that solar generation can technically meet most electrical consumption in the U.S. if we include renter-occupied and multi-family housing, given solar penetration and available roof space. This means that deploying solar on apartments could aid substantially in resolving energy equity.
Finally, this empty space in the solar market can transform. At a time when LMI households, especially those of minorities, bear an outsized energy burden, the arrival of SolShare technology from Allume offers a first-ever chance for tenants to enjoy the financial benefits of solar from their own rooftops while landlords simultaneously receive help on their bottom lines. Other rooftop solar options exist for multi-tenant facilities, but they are cost prohibitive and excessively complex to install. Only SolShare delivers simplicity, efficiency, equity, and clear financial benefit for all parties.
Imagine a solar panel array on an apartment building roof. The array collects energy and pipes it down the building to an inverter, which then feeds into — what exactly? This is the beginning of the problem. Energy must go into a grid meter, which then provides electricity to an area within the building. The building owner can deliver that energy to a common area (lobby, gym, etc.) and thereby offset the building’s energy consumption. This benefits the landlord but does not directly benefit tenants.
Alternatively, the solar energy could be sent to one or more apartment meters, but this introduces other challenges. How should the energy be divided? What if a tenant goes on prolonged vacation or moves out, leaving the space vacant? The results are inefficient at best. Inefficiency (and cost) compounds if the building has multiple solar arrays servicing multiple inverters, each tied to its own meter.
Allume Energy’s SolShare technology can match a shared solar system’s output to the energy use of individual apartments.
Multi-tenant building solar installations typically fall pretty to the “split-incentive problem,” wherein a building owner may pay to install a solar energy system, but tenants would derive the monthly economic benefits of using that solar power. The landlord can charge a fee to tenants and seek to recover the solar costs, but this is often a lengthy, contentious process.
Alternatively, families or landlords can turn to “social” or “community” solar options, in which participants can collectively invest in a shared, off-site solar energy system. Participants typically receive credits on their energy bills for the electricity generated by their portion of the solar array. Social solar projects can benefit the environment and the local community, as they promote clean energy and can create economic opportunities, but they come with key drawbacks.
The value of energy produced by a social solar farm depends on several variables, but the paramount concern revolves around how much the local power utility will pay for that energy. (This also applies to “net metering,” in which a building could sell some or all of its generated solar energy back to the grid.) Specific numbers can vary widely, but assume that it costs 20 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to consume electricity from the grid. The utility may only pay 7 cents per kWh from private entities for solar power. Regulations and policies may only mandate a “fair rate” for power fed back to the grid. “Fair” is open to interpretation, and broad pricing disparities are common. Thus, the credit offered to social solar participants by the utility may significantly undervalue the actual power generated. For this and other reasons, the rule is that the closer the electricity consumer can be to the point of generation, the better.
Again, recall that rooftop solar array, and let’s use the analogy of water, a hose, and buckets. If the energy flowing from that rooftop array is water, and the wiring from the building’s inverter to its meters is the hose, and each meter is a bucket, then you can imagine that hose trying to distribute water. The simplest approach would be to spray every bucket at once. As noted above, though, this approach presents many issues and inefficiencies, including an inability to adapt the spray to changing conditions.
Allume’s SolShare is installed on the building between the inverter and the grid boxes. You could think of it as a smart sprinkler. The SolShare sends water to each bucket in turn, moving between the buckets several times per second. In cases when the SolShare is configured with limits for each tenant, if one bucket reaches its limit, then the incoming water/energy is allocated to the remaining buckets. Any “overflow” from all buckets being full could be sold back to the utility grid.
SolShare’s flexible software lets tenants monitor their clean energy use while landlords can set rules for how solar energy should be used in the building. For example, a landlord could allocate 50% of the solar power for common areas (thus reducing the building’s energy bill), then share the remaining 50% among tenants (reducing their energy bills). If a tenant moves out, their allocation could be divided among the remaining tenants.
“As an apartment renter, I see the SolShare as a game-changer for equitable solar energy access and decarbonization of the built environment,” says Allume executive account manager Mel Bergsneider.
Several elements of the SolShare are patent-protected. The solution marks an industry first that opens up solar adoption previously infeasible if not impossible to develop. Unlike social solar, SolShare provides solar energy at the point of generation rather than principally exporting power back to the grid. Additionally, SolShare solves the split-incentive problem, because tenants and landlords can divide the energy benefits, allowing owners to recoup their investment more quickly without resorting to onerous tenant fees. Alternatively, landlords can charge a modest monthly access fee to use the SolShare system and turn it into an additional revenue stream.
Note that there have been efforts at the federal level to promote the use of solar energy in the U.S., such as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), which provide funding for research and development of solar energy technologies. Incentives from these efforts can further enhance the affordability and ROI of solar energy systems, including those with SolShare integration.
SolShare allows building owners to use solar as a cost-saving incentive for tenants, not just a social incentive, while also using SolShare’s software to provide energy use data that can help with ESG reporting. This reporting may be particularly helpful in markets like Los Angeles and New York, where there is increasing demand for buildings with lower carbon footprints. Landlords that install the SolShare can also receive solar investment tax credits. According to Allume, “buildings with lower utility bills have 3% to 7% higher occupancy rates,” thereby helping increase the building’s asset value.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 25% of all American families suffer from high energy burdens. Affordable clean energy has been out of reach for renters for a long time, which makes Allume’s SolShare solution a desperately needed game-changer.
Aliya Bagewadi, director of US Strategic Partnerships at Allume Energy, says, “Our product is trying to maximize solar consumption within the building. We’re not trying to send solar back to the grid in exchange for credits. We’re trying to get tenants to consume rooftop solar directly, and that has historically been extremely rare.”
Allume was founded in 2015 in Melbourne, Australia, and is now expanding into the U.S. and U.K. The company’s first deployments in the U.S. were last year in Orlando, Florida, and, most recently, in Jackson, Mississippi. In its Orlando deployment, SolShare eliminated the equivalent of 1800 pounds of CO2 emissions and saved each building tenant $242 in electricity per year. SolShare now runs on over 1500 apartments, with demand booming around the world.
In short, Allume’s SolShare:
Allume plans to expand its reach into the U.S. market, progressing from the South to the Midwest, then the Northwest and Northeast. As the Orlando and Jackson deployments show, Allume is already aiding U.S. expansion into a brighter, cleaner, more sustainable future.
More than 15 million people in the U.S. live in low and medium rise apartment buildings, with roof space for solar but no way of accessing it. Allume has developed a world-first technology, SolShare, which enables fair sharing of solar energy from a single rooftop solar PV system amongst multiple dwellings within the same building. This breaks down the technical and ownership barriers that have historically prevented apartment residents from accessing cheaper and cleaner energy from the sun. With an established market in Australia, Allume is now growing rapidly in the UK and the U.S. For more information, visit www.allumeenergy.com.
MEDIA RELEASE – 28th March 2023
A partnership of renewable energy companies, including Allume Energy, AXITEC Energy, Clenergy and Fronius Australia, has formed to make solar energy for multi-tenant social housing buildings more affordable.
As the cost of living in Australia continues to soar, particularly the cost of energy, many Australians are struggling to make ends meet. In response, an industry initiative has stepped in to provide a more affordable solution.
With energy prices at their highest in decades, many social housing providers are increasingly concerned with finding sustainable solutions for tenants across their portfolios, but everything comes at a cost. And, until recently, it hasn’t been feasible to install solar energy on apartments, which make up a significant proportion of social housing in Australia.
Four major clean energy companies have come together to provide a solution; a reduced-cost, solar equipment package that can connect residents of multi-tenanted buildings to lower cost renewable energy.
Dubbed the ‘Solar Social Housing Package’, the initiative offers a discount on the solar panels, roof mounting equipment, smart meters and solar sharing technology required to provide apartment residents with self-generated solar energy. The total discount amounts to around $3,750, although the partnership is now negotiating to potentially offer an even better reduction.
“Allume is thrilled to work together with our associates to solve problems that matter,” commented Cameron Knox, CEO of Allume Energy. “It is crucial that apartment residents can access clean, affordable energy, particularly social housing tenants, who are often disproportionately affected by the rising cost of energy. Communities shouldn’t have to decide between putting food on the table and heating their homes.”
Andreas Boeck, Managing Director Australia at AXITEC said, “AXITEC Energy wants to give back to the social housing community, together with our other partners in this project, by providing high quality solar modules at a discounted price for people on a low income which will assist them in lowering their electricity bill.”
Samir Jacob, Global Marketing Manager commented, “the Solar Industry is powering the future with innovation and sustainability, and we at Clenergy are glad to collaborate to bring about a brighter tomorrow for our communities. Thank you Allume for having us part of your journey.”
“We could not be more excited to contribute to the Solar Social Housing Package initiative,” Mariella Doppelbauer, Managing Director at Fronius Australia explains. “At Fronius, sustainability greatly influences every decision we make. To have the opportunity to assist these tenants become more financially sustainable with clean renewable energy is a proud moment for us.”
Combined with the various grants that are available across Australian states, installing solar energy on new or existing multi-tenanted properties may become a ‘no-brainer’ for social housing providers.
Press release – 15th March 2023
Allume Energy today announced the successful commissioning of its SolShare clean energy technology at 805 Madison Street, a multifamily building owned and operated by Belhaven Residential in Jackson, Mississippi. This latest U.S. SolShare deployment will help advance solar and behind-the-meter technologies in a market underserved by renewable energy projects.
Solar Alternatives, a Louisiana-based solar contractor, installed the 22kW array at 805 Madison. Key members of the Mississippi Public Service Commission supported the project, including Central District Commissioner Brent Bailey and former Solar Innovation Fellow Alicia Brown. Entergy Mississippi, an integrated energy company that delivers electricity to 461,000 utility customers in 45 Mississippi counties, assisted with project funding. Entergy Mississippi and Belhaven Residential entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in which Entergy will provide a $6,500 grant in exchange for access to clean energy data gathered by the project.
“Belhaven Residential focuses on offering quality housing at affordable rates, and we have a holistic and long-range vision for how to serve our tenants’ needs,” said Jennifer Welch, Founder of Belhaven Residential. “Implementing solar with the goal to provide cleaner energy at affordable prices is a win for our tenants and a win for our environment.”
The installation of SolShare and rooftop solar will increase on-site clean energy consumption and lower the energy burden for Belhaven Residential complex tenants, all of whom qualify for Mississippi’s low- to moderate-income benefits under the state’s distributed generation program.
“Residential consumers and building managers continue to pursue and embrace the benefits of a more sustainable energy portfolio, and I’m excited to see the results of our new rules and the partnerships that are developing in the community,” Commissioner Brent Bailey said. “The Distributed Generation Rules provide customer-focused programs that reduce risks, reduce energy consumption, and put money back into customers’ pockets.”
SolShare is the world’s only technology for sharing rooftop solar with multiple apartments in the same building. SolShare provides a solution for multi-tenanted residents wanting to access the environmental and economic benefits of rooftop solar, and it requires no change to the existing electricity supply and metering infrastructure. Existing SolShare installations have demonstrated electricity bill savings of up to 40 percent.
“Our team is thrilled to work with the Mississippi Public Service Commission and the Belhaven Residential team to lead the transition to clean, affordable energy in Mississippi,” said Aliya Bagewadi, Director of U.S. Strategic Partnerships at Allume Energy. “By bringing more proof of SolShare technology to Jackson residents, we’re demonstrating a scalable model for more equitable access to the environmental and financial benefits of solar for multifamily housing.”
Allume Energy is an Australian-born company which launched in the U.S. with support from Elemental Excelerator. Gabriel Scheer, Director of Innovation at Elemental Excelerator, Mobility & Energy, stated, “I am so excited to see this partnership between Allume, Belhaven Residential, and Entergy Mississippi; it epitomizes Elemental’s approach working to ensure that the transition to renewable energy is a just and equitable transition by enabling low- to moderate-income residents of Belhaven Residential to participate in the energy transition while saving money.”
Energy prices continue to impact families across the country. Technologies and programs that expand access to technologies like SolShare can reduce utility bills and decarbonize multifamily housing. This is particularly critical for low-income tenants. According to the Department of Energy, Mississippi’s low income residents currently experience the nation’s highest energy burden (12% of total income). Most households in the South have electric heating and cooling systems in their homes. Those factors, along with the region’s high temperatures, drive up energy use, which contributes to a higher energy burden despite Entergy Mississippi having some of the country’s lowest electricity rates.
With Mississippi currently ranking 35th in the nation for solar adoption, Allume and its partners believe installations like the one at 805 Madison Street will serve as a scalable model for democratizing access to clean technologies and cost-saving benefits for more low-income residents across the Southeast.
Press release – 14th February 2023
Allume Energy, Wales & West Housing and the Welsh Government have today announced the first installation of Allume’s SolShare technology for the UK’s housing sector, to provide clean, affordable electricity to residential flats in Cardiff.
The project has connected 24 flats to lower cost solar energy at Odet Court, with the potential to meet 55%-75% of each flat’s electricity demand. Based on the average usage of 1800kWH – 2,400 kWh for a 1-bed flat this could equate to an electricity bill saving of around 50% (between £390 to £530) a year, per household, based on current average electricity costs in the UK of 34p/kWh. The project has been funded by the Welsh Government in association with Wales & West Housing as part of the Optimised Retrofit Programme.
SolShare is the world’s only technology for connecting multiple residential units within a single building to a single rooftop solar PV system. Until now, previous options involved installing individual solar systems into each unit – a largely unworkable solution for developers due to cost, footprint and inefficient energy utilisation. In the case of Odet Court, this would have meant installing 24 sets of panels, 24 inverters and 24 batteries.
Not only has SolShare significantly reduced the amount of hardware and footprint required, it has also saved 25% on solar equipment costs as compared to a typical solar system. Its ‘dynamic sharing’ capacity also delivers an improved solar utilisation of over 25%. Importantly, SolShare is suitable for retrofit projects as well as new builds, as it does not require any changes to the existing supply and metering infrastructure.
“Wales is leading the way with the installation of this new technology,” commented Jack Taylor, General Manager Europe, Allume Energy. “We hope it will serve as a template for governments and social housing providers in the UK to provide cost-effective energy efficiency upgrades to multi-unit residences.
“Simple and affordable solutions are available, so it’s great to see governments and housing associations embracing innovative technologies which help tackle fuel poverty and climate change.”
Climate Change Minister Julie James said: “This is an exciting first of its kind project for Wales and exactly the type of thinking we need to see within the housing sector.
“The decarbonisation of homes plays a big part in our journey towards a Net Zero Wales by 2050 and I look forward to following this innovative project as works progress.
“At a time when costs are rising, improving the energy efficiency of homes will not only help us to deal with the climate emergency but also help families through the cost of living crisis.
“It’s another important step in our journey towards a stronger, greener, fairer Wales.”
Joanna Davoile, Executive Director (Assets) at Wales & West Housing said: “At a time when many people are facing difficult choices of whether to heat their homes or feed themselves and their families, it is only right that we explore ways to make our homes more energy efficient for our residents where possible.”
“In recent years we have been trialling different methods of retrofitting older homes with energy-saving technologies but one of the main challenges has been how to fit PV panels and battery systems to our apartment homes so that everyone living in the schemes could equally benefit.
“The SolShare system seems to be a much fairer solution as the energy generated by the building can be shared equally to help our residents to keep their electricity costs down rather than going back to the grid.”
“We are excited to see how the technology used in the SolShare system will work for our residents.”
SolShare was developed by Allume Energy, headquartered in Australia. The technology has recently undergone rigorous review by Ofgem and has been accepted as an ‘innovation measure of substantial uplift’ for the ECO4 funding initiative. SolShare has also been specified in the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund’s Wave 1 and Wave 2.1 applications by a number of local authorities and housing associations in the UK.
This innovative solar plus battery system was installed by local solar contractor Green Park Power and will annually produce 50,248 kWh of green solar energy for the direct benefit of residents. Each flat will equally share the energy produced, resulting in 2,094 kWh per unit.
About Allume Energy
Allume’s vision is a world where everyone can access clean and affordable energy from the sun. More than 2M Australians, 15M Americans, and 300M Europeans live in low and medium rise apartment buildings, with the roof space for solar but, until recently, no way of accessing energy generated from it. We didn’t think this was fair, and so we developed a world-first technology, the SolShare, which enables the sharing of solar energy from a single rooftop solar system amongst multiple dwellings within the same building.
This breaks down the technical and ownership barriers that have historically prevented apartment residents from accessing cheaper and cleaner energy from the sun.
Our customers span a range of industries including social housing providers, multi-family landlords, property developers and apartment owners.
With an established market in Australia, Allume is now rapidly growing in the UK and the US.
About Wales & West Housing
Wales & West Housing’s vision is to achieve strong, sustainable growth to make a difference to people’s lives, homes and communities.
We manage more than 12,500 high quality, affordable homes in 14 local authority areas across North, South and West Wales.
These include more than 3,000 dedicated properties for older people as well as innovative supported housing solutions for people with a range of particular needs.
The majority of our homes are for rent, allocated by local authority social housing waiting lists.
In recent years WWH has been working with a number of organisations and Welsh Government to trial different methods of retrofitting older homes with energy-saving technologies including increased internal and external insulation, air and ground source heat pumps and solar PV and battery systems.
We are a major developer building hundreds of new high-quality, affordable homes each year for rent in areas people want to live. All our new homes are built to be energy efficient.
Allume Energy’s SolShare technology is the winner of the Most Innovative Product (Hardware) at the Housing Digital Innovation Awards 2023 in Birmingham.
The SolShare technology was selected as the world’s only solution for connecting multiple flats to a single rooftop solar PV system.
Without the SolShare, solar energy for flats is technically and financially infeasible; it allows people who live in flats to finally access clean, affordable electricity.
A SolShare PV system typically adds between 5-15 SAP points to a flat for a total cost of just £2,000-£4,000 per flat. It saves an estimated 25% in installation costs as compared to a typical solar system and typically reduces the energy bills of apartment residents by 40%.
Allume Energy extends thanks to Housing Digital for creating the opportunity to celebrate the dedication and drive of everyone striving for innovation and excellence in UK housing.
We want to highlight the amazing work of our Principal Applications Engineer for the US, Brandon Carlson, for protecting the storage mandate for new multifamily and commercial construction in California.
Thanks to Brandon, the California Energy Commission was provided a wide range of solutions and technical clarification to assist them in a successful rollout of the new January 1, 2023 requirements for new offices, schools, stores, warehouses, apartments, condos and other building types that must have solar PV and storage.
Late last year, builders approached the Energy Commission saying that due to technical and market limitations, they would not be able to meet the mandate. This opened the door for the Commission to create an exemption, which would have stifled the rollout of solar and storage. The Energy Commission has estimated that the mandate will result in 280MW of solar PV and 400MWh in additional storage capacity annually.
The Energy Commission turned to CALSSA for help, who enlisted Brandon’s advice on behalf of Allume Energy.
Brandon led a series of meetings with the Commission staff explaining the existing solutions, how to wire multiple single-phase inverters in a building with 3-phase power, and changes the Commission should make to their compliance documents.
As a result, the Commission was able to provide builders with a menu of 3-phase, 208V storage solutions, and keep the mandate in place where they otherwise would have rolled it back.
Brandon was recognised by California Solar & Storage Association (CALSSA) as person of the month for his instrumental role in ensuring the mandate was not overturned.
Brandon is located in beautiful Winchester, California. He was promoted from Senior to Principal Applications Engineer at the beginning of the year and has helped launch Allume Energy’s US division.
Brandon has been in the solar and energy storage industry for over 20 years. He is an electrical contractor, holds International Code Council certifications for being both a residential and commercial electrical inspector, and has contributed a great deal to codes and standards. He represents an industry stakeholder on a variety of technical boards ranging from testing labs to national organisations. His knowledge and expertise in his field has been fundamental to Allume’s integration into the US market.
When asked what drives him, Brandon responded, “Simply put, I’m an environmentalist with a passion for problem solving. If I wasn’t paid, I would still be working within this industry, hence my very long volunteer list. Allume’s SolShare product is a great concept and I’m excited to be a member of a dedicated team of individuals that recognize its potential for multifamily residents.”
His hobbies include; fixing bad policies, codes, and standards, endangered flora and fauna, habitat restoration, sustainable living and dwelling design, table-top gaming, model building, and special effects.
With Net Zero by 2050 being the internationally agreed goal for mitigating global warming, we all have some serious work to do. A recent report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggests that to meet the target we need to at least double the global rate of renewable energy generation rollout through rooftop solar and many other means.
Solar energy is one of the most accessible renewable power options, and plays an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Rooftop solar panels help to reduce bills by up to 70% and each MWh of electricity generated by solar can save between 700kg and 1,100kg of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere.
Given this global focus on meeting these targets, and the impact solar can have on them – let’s look at some of the solar incentives being offered around the world to help get as many people as possible to do their part.
Thankfully we are seeing government financial support for communities and businesses to access and install renewable energy products. When it comes to government incentives for integrating renewable energy into new builds or retrofit projects – rooftop solar is currently getting the most attention. Here are a few examples of what’s on offer.
For residents and businesses nationwide, there are solar incentives available for the installation of small-scale systems. To check eligibility and apply for solar incentives, visit the Clean Energy Regulator website and state energy department websites. In some cases, eligible home owners can receive rebates of up to 50% of the total cost in setting up their solar systems.
Australians are also able to access ‘feed-in tariffs’. These are small solar rebates of a few cents per kilowatt hour of electricity generated by your solar power set-up that you don’t use. This goes back into the grid and you receive your payment. Feed-in tariffs are driven by state policy, so you would need to check your state regulations to find out your rate.
A £4-billion budget has been allocated for four years (1 April 2022 – 2026) giving homeowners in the UK the chance to apply for grants through the ECO4 (Energy Company Obligation) scheme to install rooftop solar panels on their homes. Using this scheme, the least energy-efficient households can save up to £1,600 per year.
There are also incentives via the Smart Export Guarantee (which started in 2020) and enable participants to receive payments for selling excess energy back to the grid.
VAT reduction is another option for those in the UK, with 0% VAT for solar panel purchase and installation from 1 April 2022 – 31 March 2027.
The USA introduced federal solar tax credits in 2006. Also known as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), they can be claimed on federal income taxes for a percentage of the cost of a solar PV system paid for by US taxpayers, provided the system installation is completed during the tax year.
Solar PV systems installed between 2022-2032 are eligible for a 30% tax credit. This will decrease to 26% for systems installed in 2033 and again to 22% for 2034 installations, with tax credits expiring in 2035, unless Congress renews it.
It is estimated that the ITC will cut the cost of installing rooftop solar for a home by 30%, or more than $7,500USD for an average system.
As the adoption of renewable energy is gaining more and more traction globally, we’re seeing incentives and rebate programs introduced and changing rabidly. As the solar rebates and solar incentive schemes change periodically, this article has been written to raise awareness of the kinds of programs and resources that are available at this point in time, and we’d recommend getting in touch with your local council or state government to find out the latest offers for your part of the world.
With apartments accounting for close to 40% of households globally, this meant until recently a large portion of the population wasn’t able to access the benefits of rooftop solar power. Thankfully this has changed with the development of new and much-needed solar tech, the SolShare.
The SolShare empowers tenants in multi-residential buildings such as apartments, flats and social housing to connect to a single rooftop system to access and share solar power. This makes it affordable and easy to install in any building.
A sharing algorithm responds to the real-time usage of each dwelling. This means the solar power is directed as needed, which maximises the usage and savings. The SolShare system is flexible, allowing pay-as-you-use through to outright ownership of the system and getting your green energy free. As well as this, in most cases residents are also able to choose their electricity retailer.
While the 2050 target is substantial, there are ways we can work together to meet it. Whether you’re a resident in a free-standing home or multi-residential building – hopefully you can now see there are options for you to choose from. Likewise, commercial developers can take advantage of the unique proposition available in the SolShare, which will make a huge difference in the long run. Contact Allume today to see how the Solshare can work in your new or existing building and the benefits you’ll receive.
With soaring energy prices and widespread environmental impacts as a result of harmful carbon emissions, many people and corporations are exploring the power and benefits of renewable energy sources. In particular, solar energy and rooftop solar.
Solar energy is one of the leading renewable power sources. It’s a driving force in supporting energy independence and sustainability and is being embraced worldwide.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), renewable energy installations exceeded previous records in 2021, with an additional 8% increase tipped for 2022. Of this uptick, solar is likely to account for 60% of this increase in worldwide renewable energy.
In this article, we are getting back to basics to provide a roundup of common solar questions, plus some helpful insights including:
Electricity and heat are two forms of energy that are created by the sun. We can use both in many different ways where solar energy is quite literally, sun energy.
When the sun shines onto a solar panel, the cells in the panel are activated and convert the sunlight into what is called direct current, or DC, electricity. Within the panel is a solar inverter, which then takes this electricity and converts it into alternating current, or AC, power. This power can be used to run your appliances, instead of using power from the grid.
When there is a surplus of energy created and not used by appliances in the home, in most countries, the excess is sent back to ‘the grid’. If you select for extra energy to be directed to the grid, in most instances you can receive a payment, known as a ‘feed-in tariff’. This is can vary from location to location and something that is worth checking with your energy provider.
Alternatively, the excess solar energy can also be directed to charge a solar battery for future use.
If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, you will ideally want your solar panels to face south.
If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, you will ideally want your solar panels to face north.
Whilst this is ideal, it’s not a deal breaker if they aren’t. If the panels can’t face these ways in your location, you need to make sure they aren’t in the line of shade throughout the day from surrounding large trees or any other obstructions.
Positioning is important to get the most out of your solar panel installation. The orientation of the roof, the pitch (the slope or angle of it) and available space for panels will all impact the panel positioning. What the tiles are made of can also make a difference.
Thankfully, many countries are supporting investment in renewable energy technology for both individuals and corporations.
It is certainly worth contacting your local council or government to find out about any available rebates or incentives to purchase and install solar panels, or other renewable energy products.
Now that we have a better idea of how rooftop solar works, which way solar panels should face and what happens with the excess energy that’s created, let’s look at some of the key benefits to having solar.
With soaring energy prices, having rooftop solar will certainly see you saving on your electricity bills, especially if you live somewhere particularly sunny. You can also integrate a battery for storing up extra energy to use on cloudier days and evenings. This will save you even more.
As long as the sun is shining, you will have ongoing access to your renewable and clean energy source.
Whether you pay for them upfront, or off in instalments, your investment in rooftop solar will be appealing to potential home buyers. The fact that solar panels provide environmental benefits and cost savings are two selling points that will certainly add appeal and profit to your sale price. In countries like the UK, solar panels also help to improve your EPC rating (Energy Performance Certificate) which can add value.
Generally, rooftop solar doesn’t need a lot of TLC. While it is said that the panels don’t need to be cleaned, it is not a bad idea to maintain them so they are performing at their peak. Blockers like leaves, dust and water can impact performance, so get a professional in if you don’t fancy getting up on the roof to do it yourself! One study revealed that dust accumulation impacted efficiency by 60%, so it is worth maintaining your investment. The only additional cost after the initial investment could be the replacement of the inverter, but that’s after 10-15 years.
Your rooftop solar can cut down on greenhouse gas emissions by hundreds of tonnes. The reduction amount will largely depend upon your location and how much power your panels can generate. But you will certainly be reducing the impact of harmful emissions by making the investment.
As mentioned earlier, in most countries any energy that you don’t use can be exported back to the electricity grid. Your electricity retailer will likely give you a feed-in tariff for each kilowatt hour (kWh) of unused energy that you export. Check with your retailer to discover the feed-in tariff rate they offer.
Depending on where you live and the amount of sunshine hitting your rooftop solar, you could be seeing payback on your investment within five years. The cost will be returned via the savings to your energy bills.
If you do your homework and invest in quality panels, they should last you in excess of 25 years. Pro tip: check the product warranty. The longer the coverage, the higher the likelihood that you’re looking at a quality product.
By teaming your panels up with a battery, you will be able to access solar power at any time of day or night. That means a particularly sunny week or two can actually give you nice clean renewable energy well after the sun is down.
Another reason to invest in a battery alongside your rooftop solar is to enable you to become energy-independent. Stored power drastically reduces your reliance on the main electricity grid, which means you can have enough energy for your personal use, even in the event of power outages.
While there is an upfront investment required for installing solar panels onto your rooftop, you will see the cost savings almost immediately in the reduction to your energy bills.
It is difficult to define the exact amount you will save. It depends on how many panels you have and where you are located in the world. The amount of sunshine you get impacts the energy produced.
On average, a 5kW system, which is generally enough to power an average home, could save you up to $2000 a year in a typically sunny location.
It does pay to research your region to get accurate reports.
All of these great benefits of having rooftop solar have, until recently, been limited to freestanding homes. However, there have been developments in technology that enable solar energy sharing in some instances using wireless power transfer (WPT). There’s also the option to return unused solar power to the grid, which is technically sharing the energy too.
That being said, the big game-changing invention enabling shared rooftop solar energy is the SolShare. This award-winning technology is a single rooftop solar system which can be shared by anyone residing in an apartment building, flats or social housing. Apartment solar panels are a new addition to the game and this tech is the first of its kind. The SolShare empowers those in multi-residential blocks to gain the benefits previously only accessible to those in free-standing homes.
The SolShare takes up limited rooftop space as a single system and has an algorithm that responds to each resident’s use. They receive solar energy as it’s required, which maximises both consumption and cost savings.
Developers, building strata and body corporates are embracing the new tech. It’s flexible in delivery with options for pay-as-you-use (per unit in multi-dwelling buildings) to owning the system outright and receiving the energy free.
Each year, a typical SolShare will reduce C02 emissions by 28 tonnes and cut down on grid electricity use by 35-40%.
To learn more about this award-winning renewable energy technology, contact the team at Allume.