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Project Summary 
System size30kW
Panel Type265W Qcell Solar
InvertersEnphase M215 Microinverter
Financial / Environmental Highlights 
Estimated payback period-
Levelised cost of energy (25 years) c/kWh-
First year C02e reduction (kg)-


ZEN Energy installed a 30kW solar energy solution for the Solitaire Motors Audi showroom at Belair Road, Hawthorn. Built in 2011, the 900m2 showroom incorporates all the features expected of a prestige space including floor-to-ceiling glass, ducted air-conditioning, and copious lighting. Notwithstanding other energy efficiency measures that had already been incorporated to reduce the showroom’s energy needs, Solitaire Motors were still keen to investigate how solar energy could reduce the operating costs of the showroom even further. The solution is estimated to cover around 20% of the site’s electricity needs.

About the project

Beginning trade in 1971, the Solitaire Automotive Group has grown and evolved to become one of Australia’s leading luxury car dealerships. Holding the exclusive Adelaide franchises for names synonymous with luxury such as Aston Martin, Maserati, and Audi, the design of their showrooms only serve to match the spectacular nature of the vehicles they hold.

Following the opening of their Audi showroom in early 2011, Solitaire began investigating how solar energy could reduce their overall electricity costs for the site and secure lower energy prices through solar, in the face of ever-increasing grid electricity tariffs.

The Solitaire Automotive Group made it clear that ZENs expertise, competitive price and reputation put them far ahead of the competition when it came to choosing their solar energy provider. Solitaire also said that ZEN being a local provider made the decision easier.

Installing the project

Solitaire Automotive’s goal was to reduce their overall electricity costs for the site and secure lower energy prices through solar, in the face of ever-increasing grid electricity tariffs.

They anticipated that combining solar with their already energy efficient showroom could achieve their financial goals while adding the benefit of lowering their carbon footprint. This was confirmed by ZEN’s specialist Business Energy Consultants, who presented a business case that made going solar an easy choice.

After passing a thorough site inspection by the ZEN Energy technical team, the 30kW system was professionally installed by Clean Energy Council (CEC) certified installers and started saving the Solitaire Automotive Group money from day one. The installation complied with Clean Energy Council guidelines and requirements, in line with the same high standards, consistency, and expertise that ZEN Energy is known for.

How the system works

30kW of solar was installed using 265W Qcell solar panels. Enphase M215 Microinverters and an Enphase monitoring system were also selected, after careful consideration of the best technology at the time of installation, the site requirements, and the client’s objectives.

Their solar energy solution helps power the lighting and air-conditioning of their large showroom, allowing Solitaire to create a comfortable and vibrant atmosphere without the expensive power bill.

The solution’s Enphase monitoring system allows Solitaire Automotive to monitor the solution’s activity via the internet in real-time. This provides valuable insights into how the solution is performing and, the benefits it is providing, and how it is tracking against the original goals.

Project outcomes

ZEN delivered this job on time and on budget, while also achieving the goals which Solitaire had intended to achieve.

In the months following the installation, Solitaire was already saving approximately $1000 per month, reducing their electricity bill for the showroom by around 20% and giving them a competitive advantage against others in their market.

“Electricity prices are forecast to increase at a rate higher than CPI, so we wanted to lock in our energy costs as much as possible and as soon as possible.”

Paul Kelly | Chief Financial Officer – Solitaire Automotive Group

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