Australian Businesses Losing Out By Not Pursuing Renewables

The Business Of Renewables

While 80% of Australians believe big businesses should use renewable energy, less than half are – and it’s costing those companies holding back dearly.

A new report from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) says businesses are missing out on more than slashing their energy costs and identifies a disconnect between what businesses think consumers want and what they actually do.

An IPSOS poll commissioned by ARENA found 76 per cent of Australians would choose a product or service made with or utilising renewables over a comparable one that wasn’t – and many indicated they would be willing to pay a premium. However, 57% of the 92 companies surveyed believed customers have no expectations for them to use renewables.

Australian consumer attitudes - renewable energy and big business

Source: ARENA

“If companies stand on the sidelines for too long, they risk falling behind their competitors in terms of saving on energy costs, reaching sustainability targets and meeting changing customer expectations,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht.

Even in large Australian businesses with renewable energy in place, two-thirds said it makes up less than 10% of their total energy mix. Among those companies, the most popular technology is solar power; with more than 70% of users having integrated solar PV. Over 80% of companies planning to increase renewables uptake in the near future are prioritising solar panels.

Confusion appears to be a major barrier to uptake by big businesses yet to integrate renewable energy. The number one reason those with renewables-based generation are using it is because it costs less, while the primary reason given by those without is a belief it costs more than conventional energy supply.

“There is a substantial knowledge gap among many corporates about the true cost savings of, and demand for, renewable energy that’s preventing them from making rational long-term investment decisions in the best interests of both shareholders and customers,” states the report.

The Agency points out that while fossil-fuel based energy generation prices are volatile and increasing, the cost of renewables is reducing, with generation pricing known in advance, stable and locked in.

In the document, ARENA offers  five steps that can be taken to build a renewable energy business case.

The Business Of Renewables report can be downloaded here (PDF).

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.


  1. Car mechanics come to mind. They generally shut shop at about 5pm. Rooftop solar would be perfect for them and their electricity powered hoists and air compressors.

    The free market might is installing solar panels on the rooftops of shopping malls (unless the rooftop is a carpark or helipad of course).

  2. Quick point there are 2.1m businesses in Australia (source abs). To get to a statistically significant sample size – where you are 95% sure that the answers your sample gives would match the general population with a Maarten of error of 5%), you would need 384 survey responses from a population of 2.1m – any less and you simply cannot draw any valid conclusions about the attitudes of the general population from that limited sample size. Cheers, J

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Their sample was drawn from the ASX200 and top 200 private companies, so conclusions could be drawn about that group – provided their methodology was good.

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