SunYield by Stoddart Group – Rental Solar

Brisbane-based Stoddart Group have announced Australia’s ‘first landlord and tenant friendly solar solution’ which they are naming SunYield. They’ll have solar systems + storage installed as default for any new homes built by the group – the systems will also be integrated with SunYield system which makes it simple for renters to benefit from the solar system as well as the owners. 

SunYield by Stoddart Group

Stoddart Group’s General Manager for Energy Systems Adam Taylor was quoted in a press release discussing how difficult it can be to find a balance where having solar installed is beneficial for tenants and landlords:

“Renters have long missed out on the benefits of solar power simply because it was too hard or complicated for landlords to justify the cost.”

“SunYield changes this by ensuring that solar on a new rental property is a good deal for the landlord, as well as the tenant” said Taylor.

“With SunYield, if the tenant chooses to use the solar panels, all solar and grid power is measured automatically via a smart switchboard and the tenant receives a single monthly power bill for all electricity consumed from both the solar and the grid. The process is completely automated, with the landlord then receiving a payment for all solar generated, whether it was used by the tenant or sent to the grid.

“With this technology, the landlord owns the solar system and can either sell the power to their tenant at a discount to the market rate or export it to the grid if the tenant chooses not to buy it.”

The SunYield package has a 6.5kW solar system with a Stoddart Smart Board (which replaces the standard meter box). It’s battery-ready and is being delivered in conjunction with Powershop and Reposit. It was launched in Queensland with leading investment builders Choice Homes, Brighton Homes, Fortitude Homes and MetInvest, who will all include the solar system as part of their new home builds.

This is a lot different to other types of rental solar schemes we’ve seen – having the solar + storage built in to the price of a new property means there’s no annoying paperwork or organisation required by either party, and there’s no requirement for the renter to use the solar system if they don’t want to. 

For example, last month we wrote about SunTenants – a scheme where the system is bought by the owner but subsidsed by renters (who, in turn, save money on electricity). There’s also ShineHub which offers ‘fixed rate, free access’ but they retain ownership of the panels/storage. 

We’re starting to see more and more different options to offer solar power to renters – great to see another option which simplifies the process and is a win for everyone! 

Stoddart Group plan to install 15,000 systems over the next three years. 

SunYield by Stoddart Group - General Manager for Energy Systems Adam Taylor
SunYield by Stoddart Group – General Manager for Energy Systems Adam Taylor (source: supplied)

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SunTenants offer solar power for renters.

A new Australian company named SunTenants is trying to solve the problem of making the installation of solar panels / storage on rental properties a tenable one for both parties involved. 

SunTenants – about the system.

The process works for both residential and commercial systems, and is simplified into four steps on the website:

  1. Owners install a solar PV system
  2. Tenants pay extra rent, but save more on electricity
  3. SunTenants will monitor the system to ensure it’s a mutually beneficial setup.
  4. Owners will make returns on their investments, and tenants will save money on their electricity (more than the extra rent they’re asked to pay).

For owners, the enhanced property value and increased rental yields will equal over 10% return on the solar investment, according to founder Dr Bjorn Sturmberg.

An article on The Fifth Estate quoting Dr Sturmberg at the All-Energy Australia 2017 Conference:

“Almost one in five Australian households have solar – that’s over 1.7 million properties,” he said. (In Queensland and South Australia over one in three Australian households have solar power installed.)

“But one in three Australians are locked out of solar.” Dr Sturmberg continued. “They’re locked out of energy efficiency as well. They are locked out of EV charging when it comes along. They are locked out of everything because they rent and or live in an apartment.”

“It’s a problem because solar is now the cheapest energy and so you are locked out of taking control of your energy bills,” he said.

“There’s a huge amount of value in there,” Dr Sturmberg continued. “How do we unlock that value?”

His solution is SunTenants – where both the tenant and the homeowner are incentivised to ‘invest’ in solar power for a rental property. 

An example of the SunTenants System

On their website, the company offer the following example of how their system can benefit both the landlord and the tenant:

SunTenants Rental Solar
SunTenants Rental Solar Example Figures (source: suntenants.com)

If you want to learn more about the system they have released an overview video about the process which you can view below:

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Australian Solar Subsidies under fire in 2018.

Australian solar subsidies are expected to cost $1.3b in 2018 as the Clean Energy Regulator estimate that 22 million small-scale technology certificates will be created. This will add approximately $100 to the average Australian solar bill. At what point, if at all, do we look at reining these subsidies in? 

Australian solar subsidies

Australian solar subsidies - Clean Energy Regulator
Australian solar subsidies – Clean Energy Regulator (source: cleanenergyregulator.gov.au)

The small-scale technology certificates (STCs) are given to people installing solar panels, and electricity retailers are required to buy them. So although this expected $1.3b will ostensibly be paid by the energy retailers, naturally the cost is passed on to the end user – resulting in even higher electricity bills.

Jeff Bye from Demand Manager in Sydney, a company that trades STCs, was quoted in the Australian as saying this years cost increase means an average electricity bill will raise by around $100:  

“The cost increase (this year) is about $800m and there are 8 million households … so there’ll be a cost impact of around $100 per household. The electricity impact might be $40 or $50 per household but businesses will pass through the additional cost too … That subsidy of $500m last year, or $1.2bn to $1.3bn this year, is added on to everyone’s bills.”

Is it time to abolish the solar subsidies?

Is this fair for renters or apartment dwellers (a rapidly increasing segment of the population)? At what point do we start to reconsider these subsidies?

With the price of solar + storage driving down as the technology gets better and better, there’s certainly going to be a ‘tipping point’ where the market can stand on its own two feet. But with Australian solar growing at an astronomical pace it’ll be difficult to find the right time/method to adjust these subsidies.

According to Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, the Australian Energy Market Commission found the average cost to households over the past five years was about $29 a year.

“The AEMC forecasts residential electricity prices will fall over the next two years as renewable energy, including small-scale solar supported by the Renewable Energy Target, enters the system,” Mr Frydenberg said. So potentially some of that $100 will be offset by lower prices from the energy retailers. 

His political opponents were a little less hopeful – as backbencher and former PM Tony Abbott fired back after hearing the statistics, saying:

“Australians are paying far too much for our emissions obsession. Government must end subsidies for new renewables,”

Liberal MP Craig Kelly, Chair of the Coalition’s Backbench Energy and Environment Committee, told Chris Smith on 4BC his thoughts on the scheme:

“All these schemes have done is make electricity prices dearer for every single Australian.”

Whilst those quotes can certainly be taken with more than a grain of salt given the abysmal state of Australian politics, it’s definitely worth having a look at these subsidies against the cost of solar, its level of technological maturity, and schemes to help low income earners, renters, and apartment dwellers benefit from renewable energy as well. 

 

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Solar Power for Rental Properties

Solar power for rental properties may start becoming more common as the cost of installs decreases and councils/community groups work on ideas such as giving landlords interest-free loans to install solar on their rental properties. With over 30% of Australia’s population currently renting, we need to figure out a way to make it viable for landlords and renters alike to benefit from renewable energy.

Solar power for rental properties

According to the ABC, 1.8 million Australian homes have PV solar installed on their roof – with a record amount being installed last year. This increase is due to two main factors – rapidly increasing electricity costs and decreasing cost of the actual solar technology.

According to Andrew Reddaway from the Alternative Technology Association, Australia could save 5.6 million tonnes of greenhouse gas if we work on increasing solar panel uptake for rental properties. 

“It’s a bit of a risk of the country dividing into the solar energy haves and have-nots,” Mr Reddaway said. 

Whilst not exactly a ‘two speed economy’, the increasing number of renters mean that we need to have a look at finding ways to get solar installed on these houses. There are obvious ramifications for having a situation where it’s not feasible for landlords to install solar power on properties they own – unfortunately magnanimity / environmental concern aren’t powerful enough drivers for owners to shell out $10,000 for a system. What sort of system would be fair, keeping in mind having solar power on the roof will also increase the value of the property. 

“It’ll be the tenant who sees the benefit on the electricity bill, whereas the person who pays for the solar system is generally the landlord. So the main question is: What’s in it for the landlord?” Mr Reddaway continued. 

Z-Net Uralla, a community group in regional NSW, have teamed up with the NFP CORENA (Citizens Own Renewable Energy Network Australia) to give landlords interest-free loans to install solar on their rental properties. CORENA work with both parties to discuss a fair increase in rent to help loan repayments.

“We are hoping that the partnership can be a model for communities elsewhere to copy,” Margaret Hender of CORENA said.

Solar power for rental properties - Margaret Hender CORENA
Solar power for rental properties via no-interest loans – Margaret Hender of CORENA (source: https://corenafund.org.au)

The energy inequality currently being inexperienced has led to a few different attempts at trying to bridge the gap. CORENA have their interest free loans, and there are options for renters to install their own portable solar for apartment buildings, as we investigated last year. 

The city of Darebin has been offering interest free solar loans for residents,with repayments added to household rates. 

Are you a renter or a landlord and have any experience with solar power? Let us know in the comments. 

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