Forget toilet paper, consumers are panic buying solar

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Byron Bay’s Smart Energy is seeing a record sales quarter after an unprecedented 41% increase in sales and a 400% increase in battery enquiries over the last two weeks as panicking consumers look to protect themselves in times of uncertainty. 

In uncertain times people rush to certainties. It is said that the only certainties are death and taxes, but what about pasta, toilet paper and solar PV? We certainly need to eat, to use the toilet, and just as certainly as the tax bill comes, so too does the electricity bill, so why not do whatever we can to lessen the impact? 

When other industries and businesses are shrinking and self-isolating, Smart Energy is taking on additional resources and looking for ways to support local communities and installers as the solar and battery retailer enjoys an unprecedented surge for its products. 

In a statement, Elliot Hayes, co-founder and managing director of Smart Energy said that there are many contributing factors to the growth, the main two being consumers seeking out greener purchases following the recent natural disasters in Australia and economic downturn, and consumers looking to future-proof their homes. 

And why wouldn’t consumers look to future-proof their homes with solar PV and an energy storage system? In the last few months we’ve gone from burning down with bushfires to burning up with Coronavirus, at times such as these, the only certainty is the uncertain. With a recession likely and many of us self-isolating in our homes using up more energy than usual, one of the easiest ways to take control of one of those central modern anxieties, the energy bill, is to use your own renewably sourced and stored energy. 

“Our growth is a by-product of economic uncertainty that is driving both residential consumers and businesses to look for ways to future-proof their savings, homes, and businesses,” continued Hayes. “People are also more worried about the state of the planet than they have been before, and rightly so. They’re looking for ways they can make a difference like conserving energy, being aware of the products they buy, and their means of transportation.” 

In August of last year, pv magazine Australia spoke to Elliot Hayes about Smart Energy’s rapid expansion across Australia from their base in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. Key to their success, said Hayes, is high-quality workmanship and a business model that allows customers to pay for their solar with the savings it provides. “Typically, our customers pay off their system in five years or less, at which point they own the system and enjoy free electricity from there on in,” said Hayes. 

The solar industry in Australia expected to take quite a hit from the Coronavirus outbreak considering most panels in the market come from China, where the virus originated. Of course, many in the industry are doing it tough, but BloombergNEF reports that the production of PV components in China is already resuming, and whilst shortages may exist in the short-term, China is expected to meet its export demand before its domestic market.