Golf club basks in solar savings

Posted on 17 Aug 2023

By Matthew Schulz, journalist, Institute of Community Directors Australia

Solar panel golf club

A Melbourne golf club has shown that not-for-profits can afford major green upgrades, without leading to below-par finances.

The Northern Golf Club in Glenroy, set on a picturesque 18-hole championship course 12km from the CBD, was stung into action by power bills of more than $50,000 a year.

The club had also planned a clubhouse rebuild and the incorporated membership body agreed to pursue a solar power solution to top it all off.

The result has been a 86kW system that has slashed the club’s energy consumption in half and saved $20,000-a-year.

The solar power installation meant the club pays nothing for energy in the day, while slashing carbon emissions by 121 tonnes-a-year.

The project has been made possible through a progressive green loans scheme, which funds building upgrades that can demonstrate an environmental benefit.

The club is among hundreds of businesses across the country using the environmental upgrade finance (EUF) through the Sustainable Australia Fund, with payments made via local council rates.

It struck a deal with the Merri-bek Council in 2019 for the panel purchase, with the council being an enthusiastic supporter of the scheme.

Solar panels on roof Northern Golf Club Glenroy
Northern Golf Club in Glenroy have slashed their energy bill after installing solar panels on the roof of the clubhouse.

The club’s chair Michael Leyden said the club was able to be “cash-flow” positive from the moment it switched on the panels, with the savings significantly more than interest and repayment charges.

Mr Leyden described the scheme as “an easy way to get this upgrade and save us money in the long run.”

“There’s still some night-time and early morning usage, which we want to fix with batteries as soon as they are considered viable,” he said.

He urged other organisations to research the best options for them.

“Do your homework. Do the calculations around your power usage and pick the right installer for the job. And go for it; it’s saved the club a lot of money.”

The club are looking beyond the benefit's of solar panels and are also implementing environmentally friendly car chargers for it's vehicles.

It is no surprise that the Merri-bek Council, in Melbourne’s progressive inner-north, is a supporter of environmental upgrade finance.

The municipality has long been a supporter of sustainable energy and initiatives, with several other commercial operators taking advantage of environmental upgrade agreements worth several hundred thousand dollars.

Acting Merri-bek mayor Helen Davidson
Acting Merri-bek Mayor Helen Davidson

Acting Mayor of Merri-bek Helen Davidson said the council was proud to be able to offer environmental upgrade finance.

“I encourage other councils to roll out a similar program to help fast-track upgrades for local businesses."

Cr Davidson said it was a great financing option that both made buildings more sustainable, while saving money in the long-term and “doing the right thing” for the environment.

She said the council had already facilitated environmental upgrade agreements with seven businesses worth a total of $671,000.

And she said that the Sustainable Australia Fund “aligns with the vision of our Zero Carbon Merri-bek Framework, to support Merri-bek residents and businesses to be powered by renewable energy”.

The council also provided resources to support businesses access the finance scheme.

More information

Loans paid through council rates could pay for green upgrades for NFPs
Sustainable Australia Fund
Help sheet: More finance options for environmental upgrades
Net Zero Heroes: More guidance for environmentally-aware not-for-profits
Case study: Heritage town turns to the sun to bury use of fossil fuels

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