Bundaberg Wholesale Palms

Bundaberg Wholesale Palms

Bundaberg nursery moves to solar PV for irrigation and general use – and thrives


Bundaberg Wholesale Palms & Plants is a privately-owned retail and wholesale nursery supplying an extensive range around garden, design, and landscaping needs. The business is situated in Wongarra, just south-east of Bundaberg’s CBD. The nursery’s wide range of products and services includes functional and decorative landscaping supplies, ph tested garden soils, a variety of mulches, sands, logs & sleepers, pavers, edging and turfs; as well as spas, Bali huts, a massive display of water features, chemicals, plants, palms, and trees, pools, and fencing.

Bundaberg Wholesale Palms are always looking for ways to engage with their customers and encourage locals to do more gardening. They sponsor local events, give great usable advice to gardeners, and offer innovative and affordable solutions such as a “garden-to-go.” This commitment to providing the best possible products and customer service is reflected in their outstanding reviews from dozens of happy customers.

Business Problem

Rising power bills were eating into the Bundy Palms’ budget and threatening their ability to keep afloat, a problem increasingly faced by small and large businesses as well as households around the country. Bundaberg Wholesale Palms is located on a large site with several sheds and display areas that house their extensive range of products. A 7.5 kW pump is used daily to water the nursery plants and crops.

Bundaberg Wholesale Palms & Plants is a privately-owned business and competes with small, local as well as corporate players, making it paramount to keep costs low. The nursery’s owner, Steve Pratt, had to find a way to slash electricity costs while not undermining the nursery’s high-quality standards for customer service and products.

The Solution

Bundaberg Wholesale Palms & Plants needed a tailored, comprehensive solution that would take care of their various needs. Because they are open seven days a week from 8 am to 5 pm, and have lots of available roof space, they are the ideal solar candidate. With a well-designed system, they should be able to use just about every kWh they produce at the property themselves. But to figure out exactly what solar solution Bundy Palms required to run as efficiently as possible, we had to get a clear picture of how and where they were using electricity. We analysed their consumption profile, electricity bills, and tariffs.

Based on our findings we designed an 11.5kW ground-mounted solar irrigation system that would offset all of the costs of running their 7.5kW pump to feed water to crops. Going for a smaller system, such as a 7.5kW solar PV system to match the size of the pump, would not offset all of their usage. This is due to solar systems peaking and running at full capacity only in the middle of the day. Solar irrigation systems require some extra panels to ensure sufficient power production in the morning and afternoon. In Bundy Palms’ case, they are also planning to add a second pump to their solar irrigation set up in the future.

On the Bundaberg Wholesale Palms’ main site we installed 36.5kW of solar PV over two different buildings. To take advantage of the morning and afternoon sun, the panels are facing North East and North West.

The main site is connected to a second electricity account with two different tariffs, one residential tariff that supplies electricity to a ground keeper’s property, and one “Tariff 20 general supply”. Because the solar is connected to the general supply tariff, we rewired the existing meters and shifted more load onto that which maximises the solar savings effect.


System size: 47.5 kWp solar PV

11.5 kWp of ground-mounted solar PV for solar irrigation

36 kWp of roof-mounted solar PV for general use

System Type: three-phase, zero export

 Major system components:

 190 x 250w Phono solar panels (45 ground-mounted, 145 roof-mounted)

1 x ABB Trio 27.6kW 3-phase inverter

1 x ABB Trio 20kW 3-phase inverter

Financial Data:

System cost: $45 000 ex GST

Electricity cost savings: $14 000+ per annum

Electricity bill reduction: 70% – from $5 500 to $2 000 per quarter

ROI: 3.2 years, cash-flow positive from the first quarter



Three years on, Bundaberg Wholesale Palms are going strong. Both their solar power and solar irrigation systems are providing the bulk of electricity needed to keep the business going strong. Their electricity bills have reduced by 70% from $5500 to $2000 per quarter. The payback period of 3.2 years means that the solar system is almost paid off, and the nursery’s cash flow position is about to improve dramatically. Steve Pratt is extremely pleased with the way solar has shielded his business from the exorbitant power price rises of the last few years.

If Bundy Wholesale Palms decided that they would like to produce more power to cover even more of their own electricity consumption, they could add more panels at any time. Adding a battery such as Tesla Powerwall 2 is also an option in the future. All of GEM Energy’s solar installations are readily upgradeable and expandable.


GEM Energy are proud to share this solar irrigation and general solar PV case study with you as a shining example of how solar can help commercial ventures in any sector. Bundaberg Wholesale Palms were facing an uncertain future with the way power prices affecting their ability to run their business. Our approach to combine three different solutions, a standard commercial solar PV system, latest solar irrigation technology, and optimising electricity loads between tariffs and meters, provided all the answers ro Bundaberg Wholesale Palms to increase their energy independence and become a future-proofed organisation.

We would like to congratulate Steve Pratt on his excellent business foresight and for putting his trust into our company. Massive thanks also to our hard-working installers for their excellent workmanship out in the field!

GEM Energy have a passion for helping Australian businesses save money on electricity bills and reclaim their energy independence through our commercial solar solutions. Get in touch for your free quote or feasibility study today!

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