Solar pioneer delighted with investment

Jan 31, 2020

Services: Intyalheme

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.

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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.”

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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!”

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