Solar-Powered Shoes

26I’d never have seen myself operating a shoe factory – not in a million years. Who knew there was a market for vegan leather dress shoes? It does make sense, though. What with the ever-increasing concern for the state of the planet and all, people are taking more interest in reducing carbon expenditure in manufacturing. Locally made stuff ticks a box, as does the bamboo-based fibre and slow manufacturing techniques we use here.

Lately, I’ve been feeling a need to go a step further and take this business into carbon neutral territory. A key factor in making that happen is getting commercial solar installed. In Melbourne, it’s becoming more and more commonplace for commercial operations to run at least partly on rooftop systems, so why not?

I think it should be achievable for us to get a decent proportion of our energy from solar panels because, for a factory, our electricity use is actually pretty low. We don’t use a lot of powered machinery, as everything is fabricated by hand. The bulk of our energy usage comes from overhead lighting, I’d say… it would be interesting to find out for sure, though. I’ve heard that there are commercial energy monitoring systems that can help keep tabs on how much energy is going into different appliances and at what times.

The thing is, it’s quite a big investment and I’m going to need some kind of financial assistance to make this a reality. I know there are a few different government incentives for commercial solar installation, but it’s hard to keep up with what’s what – it seems to be constantly changing. I mean, there were those Victorian Energy Efficiency Certificates for a while there, right? Are they still a thing? How do they help me save dollars?

At the end of the day, I know there’ll be savings on electricity bills, which will only become more valuable in future if energy prices continue to go up. It’s just a matter of figuring out what incentives there are to help me offload some of the upfront cost.