Forget toilet paper, Australians are panic-buying PV

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From pv magazine Australia.

New South Wales-based solar retailer Smart Energy has said it is witnessing a record sales quarter after an unprecedented 41% increase in sales and a 400% increase in battery enquiries over the last two weeks as panicking consumers look to protect themselves in uncertain times. 

While other industries are being battered by the effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic, Byron Bay-based Smart Energy is taking on additional resources and looking for ways to support communities and installers as the solar and battery retailer enjoys an unprecedented surge in demand. 

Smart Energy co-founder and MD Elliot Hayes said there are many contributory factors to the explosion in interest in solar and storage, with the main ones consumers seeking greener purchases following the recent bushfires and floods in Australia and the associated economic downturn, and people seeking to future-proof their homes.

On-site energy

With a deep-set global recession far from unlikely and people self-isolating and using more electricity at home as a result, generating and consuming energy on-site is one way to guarantee a measure of supply.

“Our growth is a by-product of economic uncertainty that is driving both residential consumers and businesses to look for ways to future-proof their savings, homes and businesses,” said Hayes in a statement. “People are also more worried about the state of the planet than they have been before, and rightly so. They’re looking for ways they can make a difference like conserving energy, being aware of the products they buy and their means of transportation.”

Payback period

In August, pv magazine Australia spoke to the Smart Energy MD about its rapid expansion from the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. Hayes said high-quality workmanship and a business model that enabled customers to pay for solar with the savings it generates were crucial to the business’ success. “Typically, our customers pay off their system in five years or less, at which point they own the system and enjoy free electricity from there on in,” said the co-founder at the time. 

The solar industry in Australia had expected to take quite a hit from the COVID-19 outbreak, considering most of its panels are shipped from China, where the virus originated. However, market intelligence firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance has reported PV component production is already resuming in China and while short-term shortages are expected, the global solar capital is expected to prioritize meeting export demands ahead of those of its domestic market.