The Sunulator, a free simulation tool that allows communities to assess the economic feasibility of medium-scale grid-connected solar power systems, has been launched by the Alternative Technology Association (ATA).
Unlike most other solar calculators, Sunulator uses half-hourly consumption and generation data over a whole year to calculate how much solar generation will be consumed onsite versus exported. The generation calculations draw on Bureau of Meteorology solar data drawn from 5km grids across Australia, cross-checked against live system performance.
Based on electricity tariff information, Sunulator calculates the impact on an electricity bill and projects the savings over a 30-year time frame. Financial results include payback period, net present value and return on investment.
It was developed with support from the City of Sydney and the Melbourne Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.
Sunulator lead designer Andrew Reddaway said it was meant for medium-scale solar projects and would suit community solar initiatives. It can also be used by individuals wanting to understand the feasibility of their rooftop systems.
“There’s a real upswing in interest in community energy at the moment,” Mr Reddaway said.
“A community group might be looking at putting a substantial number of solar panels on the roof of a local warehouse or factory. Sunulator will help them work out whether their project will be economically viable.”
Donna Luckman, the ATA’s chief executive, said Sunulator was an exciting new tool that would boost community renewable energy in Australia.
“The ATA is proud to support community renewable energy. With the Community Energy Congress coming up in Canberra, we see a groundswell of interest and action,” Ms Luckman said.
“Sunulator is just the tool that people need for both medium and small-scale grid-connected solar systems.”
To start using Sunulator, click here.