Stoddart Group launches rooftop solar system for investment properties

Building products company Stoddart Group have created an innovative rooftop solar system for investment properties, and will install the system on 15,000 new investment properties in Queensland over the next three years.

The SunYield package includes a 6.5kW solar system installed on the new property with a smart switchboard that automatically measures and bills the tenant for solar power used. SunYield will generate an average of $25 per week of electricity income for the landlord, while also saving the tenant on any power they use that is supplied from the roof. The landlord can either sell the power to the tenant or sell it directly back to the grid if the tenant chooses not to buy it.

“It’s a large system – 6.5kW of panels,” says Adam Taylor, Stoddart Group’s general manager for energy systems. “We got the biggest system we could on a domestic application. We pair that with the Stoddart smart board. The smart board is a regular meter box and it has a  sort of like a controller nt he back of a board with a 4G connection and be used to monitor and control the system. Together, we’re calling it the SunYield package and it’s a system that produces 10000kwh/year.”

The SunYield controller allows for the creation of two accounts for the power generated from the rooftop solar – an account in the landlord’s name, and an account in the tenant’s name. If the tenant doesn’t want to buy the solar, it is easy to separate the accounts, Adam says.

“One of the big hurdles we had selling solar systems to investors/landlords is that when they first build, they might have a tenant to buy the rooftop solar power, but then a new w one moves in and doesn’t want to buy the power,” he says. “The Australian-first bit of what we’re doing is that if the new tenant says no, I don’t want to buy the solar, the owner can sell it to the grid.”

Adam notes that while rental yields are about 5%, while solar yields are 25%.

“WITH an investment property, it’s all about yield,” he says. “It’s not about the house, it’s the financial yield you’re expecting for it. If you’re investing in something, you want to be sure that the return will be there. No other product or solution has come up with the solution – what if the tenant that moves in doesn’t want to buy that power off of you. No investor in your right mind would put solar on, thinking you might have a tenant for 12 months. The challenge for us is, how do we make sure it’s a win/win and the tenant gets a good discount of the power off the roof, and you can show the owner that there’s a good enough return that it’s a no-brainer for them.”

Stoddart Group targeted Queensland first and will move into NSW and Victoria, Adam says. The system is for new build properties first, and while the system doesn’t come with a battery yet, it can be easily retrofitted for battery storage, Adam adds.

“In fact, that’s kind of part of the design – batteries aren’t economic at the moment, but everyone knows they’re going to be cheaper in the future,” he says. “For landlords with a 10kwh battery, what happens is that if the landlord sells the power to the tenant, they get 50% yield for the power. If they send it back to the grid, they get a base rate. A battery lets them do some arbitrage and sell more to the tenant at night-time. It’s not economic now, but all of these systems come with the technology that once it’s in place, we can optimise it for the landlord, and make sure that as much as possible can be used.”