Solar pioneer delighted with investment
Jan 31, 2020
One of the Territory’s earliest adopters of solar power calls himself a “greenie capitalist” and says he’s delighted with the savings he’s made thanks to renewable energy.
Alice Springs resident Ian Bacchus with a collection of solar panels which were installed in 2001.
Ian Bacchus moved to Alice Springs at the start of the new millennium, relocating from New South Wales, where he had already installed solar and was familiar with the rules.
“I wanted to have solar when I came up here, but the legislation wasn’t through, so all I got out of NT Parliament was a draft copy,” Mr Bacchus said.
A few conversations later, his intentions were approved, on the understanding that if the Government changed its mind, the solar modules would have to be removed.
“It was a bit risky, but it was tried and tested in NSW and I knew the technology was good, so I went for it,” he said.
“Here in Alice Springs we probably have the best solar factory in Australia.” Ian Bacchus
A new 5KW array has recently been installed, replacing the 2001 system which made NT history. PICTURE: Ian Bacchus
The installation in 2001 became the first single phase solar photovoltaic rooftop array in the NT.
Mr Bacchus recalled his initial investment for the 1.5KW system was around $18,500 with an additional $8,000 in Federal Government subsidies.
The recent installation of a replacement 5KW system cost him $8,500, demonstrating the incredible drop in the price of technology over two decades.
Despite the comparatively costly initial investment, Mr Bacchus has no regrets. He said the first system had definitely paid for itself, although a small mishap somewhat curtailed its potential.
“I accidentally hosed my inverter in the early days and killed a few panels, so it was never putting out what it should have,” he said.
“It would have paid for itself three or four times (had all the panels been working) but I know I’ve recouped more than it cost me.”
It was baseline data from the 1.5KW system that was used in the bid for Alice Solar City. The data was collected by Glenn Marshall, who worked for the Arid Lands Environment Centre at the time and is currently the General Manager of the Intyalheme Centre for Future Energy. The Solar Cities bid was successful.
“It led to millions of dollars of infrastructure and funding coming to Alice Springs, so it’s amazing what a little butterfly’s wing beat does. Absolutely magic,” said Mr Bacchus.
Looking to the future, Mr Bacchus said he would invest in household batteries “only when they become cost-effective” and he would welcome any moves to prove the viability of wind power as an alternative renewable resource locally.
Asked what he liked about solar, Mr Bacchus said the array helped to shade the house, and it created electricity which converted to money.
“I’m into tech, but I’m also into making money,” Mr Bacchus said.
“I’m an environmental, greenie capitalist!”