Module manufacturer Tindo Solar prepares move into 'solar rental' market | RenewEconomy

Module manufacturer Tindo Solar prepares move into ‘solar rental’ market

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Australia’s only solar panel manufacturer applies for regulatory approval to offer “solar rental” services to homes and small businesses.

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Australia’s only solar panel manufacturer Tindo Solar is set to expand its offering into the “solar rental” market, applying for regulatory approval to sell power to homes and businesses.

Under the brand “Tindo Energy”, the company has applied to the Australian Energy Regulator for an individual exemption to solar a formal retailer authorisation under the National Energy Retail laws.

According to the application published on the AER’s website, Tindo will offer power purchase agreements with terms of up to 10 years to both residential and small-business customers.

Tindo is Australia’s only solar panel manufacturer, with an assembly plant located in Adelaide that can produce up to 60MW of panels each year.

Tindo Solar was acquired in 2017 by parent company Cool and Cosy and at the time it was flagged by managing direct Glenn Morelli that there was strong potential for the company as a provider of ‘solar rental’ services.

The Cool and Cosy group of companies already includes the “Solar Rental Company” which provides finance solutions to households installing solar. However, customers still ultimately own the system and buy and sell the electricity through their usual electricity retailer.

But under the new plans, Tindo will offer to sell power to households from systems installed and owned by Tindo. This is a new business venture for Tindo, and the company is optimistic that it will be able to leverage its strong presence in the solar installation market to deliver the solar rental services.

Tindo has some previous experience in selling power to building occupants under a power purchase agreement, having received $20 million in finance from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to expand its business.

“[Tindo Energy] intends to operate in every State and Territory, selling solar electricity to grid-connected residential customers and also to grid-connected small and large business customers, but initially will be operating in South Australia and Queensland,” the company says in the AER application.

“Customers will be offered a range of solar systems and a range of solar PPA terms. The solar system and the term each customer ultimately will have will depend on what the customer’s needs are and what the customer wants.”

“Solar systems will be sized having regard to customers’ consumption and whether or not they have batteries. They range from 3kW to 15KW for residential customers and can be much larger for large business customers.”

Tindo Energy would continue to own and operate rooftop solar systems installed on a property and would issue a monthly bill to a customer for the power produced by the solar power system, but the customer would benefit from reduced bills charged by its third-party electricity retailer.

At the end of the contract term, the customer will have the option of purchasing the system outright for $1.

The agreement would only cover the electricity produced from the solar panels, and customers would need to maintain a connection to the grid for the rest of their electricity consumption.

But to meet the requirements of the retailer authorisation, Tindo will design the systems to ensure that no excess solar power is fed back into the grid, it will do this either by offering the installation of a battery storage system with the solar rental or will deploy “limitation devices” to prevent any exports.

The exemption would allow Tindo to sell electricity to customers that are renting panels but would allow the company to avoid the significant bureaucratic requirements of becoming a fully-fledged electricity retailer.

Tindo is able to seek such an exception as its solar rental customers would need to maintain a separate connection to the electricity grid, and an account with an existing electricity retailer.

The Australian Energy Regulator is accepting submissions on the exemption application through to 17 April.

Cool and Cosy and Tindo Energy have been contacted for additional comment.

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