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Ken Flower brings solar power innovation to Kaputar Ford

Narrabri identity, Ken Flower’s journey with solar power was pretty unique, in that he was determined to work alongside a company to design the installation for his large in-house auto workshop at Kaputar Ford in Narrabri. 

drone photo of the roof of Kaputar Ford with solar
Kaputar Ford rooftop solar

He had run into many problems with his first 70kW system, installed on the building next door, where he wasn’t seeing a great deal of efficiency, product support or profitable return. 

In trying to understand the system, Ken, aided by his inquisitive engineering background, learned enough about designing systems to know he wanted to give it a crack in his next solar venture. 

“It’s always good to go local, we had a lot of problems with our first system, and a lot of that was because we were dealing with third party agents and installers making it very complex and no one really had the knowledge on how it operated.”

Geni.Energy plugged the hole that other quotes I received did not, in that they were local, I could speak to them, and they were interested in more than just selling me a system.”

One potential problem that Ken could understand with the industrial use of solar, is having staff who clock on at different times of the day, but since his team’s work hours are during daylight hours, the most productive for solar, he is generating power at the time they use it.

“The bad thing is, sometimes the sun gets up late and sets a bit earlier, so the sides of each demand cycle of electricity use can get clipped. So we had to design a system to try and get the extremities of our workforce timing for when they clock on and off.”

To help overcome this Ken ensured solar panels were installed on both the east and west facing roofs, to extend the generation time, earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon.

At Kaputar Ford, the largest energy consumption is during the scorching summer months, when there are nine massive evaporative air conditioners running full-time in the workshop with 14 employees. 

With such a large system on his workshop roof (38kW) Ken is able to export his excess generation back to the grid, helping his overall profitability of the system.

Ken has calculated that he manages to get a monthly saving of $1000, amounting to $12,000 per annum. Ken used to pay $1,500 for the cost of electricity per month, and he can’t imagine what his bill would look like now, with current electricity costs having risen by 25 percent or more. 

“I’m surprised by how efficient the new technology is - it’s reliable and efficient - we used to have an alarm on our old system to know when it wasn’t generating, but now I don't get any problems."

One of Ken’s favourite additions to his solar installation is the constant live monitoring and informative graphs from the system, giving him up-to-the-minute data on his generation and usage.

“The system works, you’ll make money out of solar, and the more power you generate during the day, the more money you’ll save.”

For businesses facing the obstacle of adding solar on rented premises, an option could be to work with the landlord by suggesting adding the cost of installation into the rental agreement if they have paid for the system, as Ken did.

“As a tenant my choices were: pay for the lot myself, but then when you move you don’t take that with you, so that’s a big consideration." 

Ken out the front of Kaputar Motors
Ken Flower is General Manager at Kaputar Motors

In a demonstration at an event run by Geni.Energy for other businesses, Ken showed that even though the original costs of the system and the value of feed-in tariffs have changed there is still value for money.  As electricity prices increase, the savings increase.

“I can recommend Geni.Energy. They know my system and how it helps us. I’ve got all the numbers to convince people what I do.”

Ken standing next to a restored Ford vehicle
Ken Flower with his historical Ford vehicle
“I’m pleased to see Geni.Energy are based locally and are so passionate about advancing solar in our area.”

In his next steps, Ken is keen to investigate the potential of community batteries and the combined efficiency this could have for regional towns, versus the price of installing a single battery on a private premises. 

"So what's the best way to handle something more costly, complex and has bigger problems if it fails? Pool people's money together, and buy one between them."

“We want power created in Narrabri to be held in a battery here, so that we can use it in Narrabri at night, instead of running it in to and from the Hunter Valley.”

community battery with aboriginal art
Community Battery example by Ausgrid

104 views1 comment


C'mon Ken....where is your electric solar powered Mustang? Or the Aussie converted F150 Lightning ute?

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