Case study: how the Pullman Quay Grand went solar

Yes, rooftop solar cuts costs and greenhouse-gas emissions, and improves your future energy security. But owners in this Sydney apartment building found even more upside.

In 2017, residents of the harbourside Pullman Quay Grand apartment building decided to install a 350-panel rooftop solar system – but they weren’t just thinking about their electricity bills.

“Apartment owners pay for their own energy use, as well as for a proportion of energy used to power common area plant and equipment,” said Kim Camrass, Sustainability Engagement Coordinator at the City of Sydney. “Using solar to service common area energy needs reduces this financial impact.”

Rooftop solar at Pullman Quay Grand. Photo: Jessica Lindsay

Research shows that 75 per cent of people in Australia believe rooftop solar adds value to a property, and Camrass said it can have a particularly big impact in apartment buildings.

“In addition to their own electricity, apartment owners have to pay a share of the communal bill, and that’s what the rooftop solar is generally being used for,” she said.

Owners corporation energy bills cover common services such as lighting, lifts, pumps and fans, along with recreational energy needs, including sauna and pool heating. They are often considerably higher than individual apartment bills as 60 per cent of energy use in a large apartment building is common area. Lowering an apartment’s communal costs can make it more attractive to buyers and, therefore, more valuable.

More ways than one

The Pullman Quay Grand, a neighbour of the Sydney Opera House, is a great example of how rooftop solar can provide an attractive return on investment. Because the building has ample unshaded roof space, it will only take three years for residents to recoup the cost of solar installation through savings on electricity bills. After that, the panels will operate at a profit each month. Meanwhile, the solar infrastructure gives any owners who are selling their apartments a competitive advantage.

Not every rooftop solar installation offers such a short payback period. But as a long-term investment, rooftop solar makes a lot of sense, whether you plan to stay in your dwelling or eventually sell it.

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