Commercial Solar in NZ: More Than An Eco-Trend?

For years, solar was seen by many as a way for businesses to get some environmental brownie points. Even though very few companies were powering their day-to-day operations with panels alone, the installation of solar systems was still a popular way to come across as a sustainable organization. But nowadays, solar isn’t just a way to make a statement: they’ve become a very compelling strategic decision for commercial businesses. Let’s go over all the advantages for Kiwi businesses to jump onto solar as more than just a trend.

Electricity Costs

The most obvious draw is what first comes to mind: electricity costs. By generating their own electricity, companies can dramatically cut down on utility bills, reducing overall operating costs. And while that may seem like a hard thing to pin down since it varies greatly from business to business, the government’s made that a little easier for you by putting out a detailed report into, “the financial performance of on-site generation for businesses.” Dr Allan Miller and Dr Gareth Gretton from ANSA and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority respectively published their research in August of 2021, which contains comprehensive overviews of how different types of businesses in various cities across the country would benefit from solar. The methodology of the study is very thorough, and if you’re a medium to large-scale business owner interested in solar, I’d highly recommend digging into it to get a much, much more thorough understanding. In the briefest of terms, the study measured internal rate of return, or IRR. The higher the IRR, the more likely it was that the investment into solar would provide a high return for the company. Here’s a few samples of data just so you get an idea of some trends. Christchurch and Hamilton provided the most consistently high IRR for big box retailers, places like The Warehouse. Auckland reigned triumphant for retailers, waste water treatment plants and manufacturing. Dunedin businesses were never among the highest IRR, and Wellington didn’t fair too well either. The study concludes that this is due to peak loads of energy not lining up with peak sunlight periods in both regions, while other major cities benefitted greatly by having these two factors relatively synced up. While this data may appear daunting, I believe it’s important you know the benefits and potential risks depending on where in Aotearoa you operate. Feel free to check out the study yourself and see how your business might fare.

Independence and Customization

Next up, independence and customizability. Every company has very different demands and needs, and the power grid doesn’t allow for much case-by-case flexibility. A good electrician will do a great job at making it work the best for you with timers and considering your peak loads, but you’re still reliant on the grid to keep you going. With solar, you get the most granular level of control possible on how your power gets used. You can have batteries set up to store power during low demand times of day on hand for the times you know that you’ll have high demand. You can determine exactly how many panels you need to generate the right amount of energy for your business. And above all, it means that no matter what your power company does, whether that be raising their rates or removing their free/cheap power hours, you have a completely independent, customized for your needs method of generating the power you need to keep your business going.

Environmental Impact

This next point might seem reductive, since I spent the intro saying that we were past the days of solar being trendy. But now that sustainability has become less of a trend and more of a necessity to keep our commercial greenhouse gas emissions down, the zero-emission power of solar is a huge reason to invest in it on a commercial scale. In 2021, 88.9% of our GHG emissions came from industry, meaning that when compared to residential solar, industrial solar has a lot more room to reduce our overall emissions. Many consumers are aware of this as well, becoming more aware of the ethics of the companies they shop from and choosing how they spend their money based on that with the help of publications like Ethical Consumer. Being able to say that your business is carbon neutral or that you only use renewable energy is a substantial draw to more ethically minded consumers.


Solar energy is not just a green trend; it’s a smart business choice. Embracing solar reduces operating costs, gives you electrical independence and helps to save the planet that we all live on. However, your business and where you operate will shape your electricity needs and how solar can best work for you. That can be a lot to figure out, so I’d recommend digging deeper into the report from the EECA. And from there, we at Sunshine Solar would love to help break down exactly how solar would work best for your business with a free quote and get you on the track to a more sustainable and independent way of running your business. Get yourself a free quote here.

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