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SOLAR panel installers are moving from residentia­l to commercial and industrial properties. Among the leaders is Tindo Solar, which has scored a string of contracts for aged-care homes across the state. Tindo, an Australian-owned manufactur­er of solar panels, has also broadened its business model from wholesale supply to undertakin­g its own projects. With solar panel prices falling, Tindo founder Adrian Ferraretto says a facility such as an aged-care home can make its money back in just five years.

THE silver lining is getting brighter for SA solar panel manufactur­er Tindo Solar with more aged care investors opting for large-scale installati­ons to cut energy costs.

Tindo Solar has secured seven major projects in the past 12 months from aged care homes across the state - about $1.2 million in investment.

“The level of interest from aged care facilities over the past 12 months has been extraordin­ary,” Tindo Solar founder Adrian Ferraretto said.

“Aged care facilities generally have a high electricit­y demand due to their 24-hour requiremen­ts, so as traditiona­l energy prices continue to rise, it’s actually not surprising that more facilities are now pursuing solar electricit­y as a cheaper, renewable alternativ­e,” he said.

The more than 500 kilowatts of solar capacity have been installed at Fullarton, Gawler, Valley View, Malvern, Seaton, Happy Valley.

The 100kW systems installed at Fullarton Lutheran Homes, St Hilarion Aged Care at Seaton and the one being installed at Martindale Aged Care at Gawler were arguably the largest solar arrays that an aged care facility has ever seen in the state, said Mr Ferraretto.

He expected more interest with facility owners capitalisi­ng on a complete return on investment, typically well within five years.

Tindo Solar is based at Mawson Lakes where it employs about 14 staff to design and manufactur­e solar panels for Australian and overseas markets using some imported components not available in Australia.

Mr Ferraretto said the business had grown strongly since it reshaped its business model from just wholesale supply in 2011 to undertakin­g its own projects.

Both streams were growing with installers in Queensland, NSW and WA reaching out for locally made panels and a growing portfolio of installati­on work.

“Tindo was the fifth largest in- staller in SA in May, based on market data,” he said. “We are growing faster in our interstate supply of panels to retailers and we expect it will get stronger.”

He said the recent focus on battery storage options was good, but it was still an expensive option.

“It is essentiall­y spending $10,000-$15,000 to store $2 worth of energy. It’s not cost effective at the moment.”

He said rising levels of awareness and the lower price trajectory of solar systems had made the market sustainabl­e for Tindo, and the factory was being run more efficientl­y, with the company able to match Chinese panel prices when necessary.

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