Great Western Hotel

Great Western Hotel in Rockhampton Goes Solar
Soaring energy prices responsible for iconic hotel’s solar switch


We recently partnered with world renowned country hotel and entertainment venue, Great Western Hotel, on a significant custom solar for hospitality solution. The Great Western Hotel in Rockhampton was established in 1862 and is today not just an authentic country hotel and award-winning Steakhouse, but also one of the major entertainment venues in Central Queensland. Events held at the Great Western range from rodeos and professional bull riding to Indoor Moto X and headline music acts.

Having featured on various TV programs in Australia and overseas, the busy hotel is a major tourist attraction catering to around 250,000 patrons each year. The Great Western Hotel’s unique entertainment offering and outstanding service attract superb reviews, and its engaged management team are well known for truly listening to their customers when presented with requests and feedback. Visitors visit the Great Western Hotel to experience the vibrant country Queensland atmosphere, reflecting on a time long gone by. All the while, they enjoy excellent food, friendly staff and the thrills of live bull riding and a massive music performance arena.

Business Problem

Australia has faced electricity price hikes of 63% over the last decade and there seems to be no end in sight on how much electricity retailers will charge everyday Australian business and home owners. Network costs and wholesale costs make up nearly 70% of the bill – before you’ve even bought from the retailers you know like an AGL, an Origin or an EnergyAustralia. The problem is even more dire in regional areas, where network costs are often severely higher.

Commercial consumers just as much as household consumers are also finding it increasingly tough to balance their budgets. Hospitality and entertainment venues like the Great Western Hotel operate in a seasonal business and demand can fluctuate wildly. Fixed costs are high and ever-increasing, and must be met even during slow trading periods. But simply cutting costs isn’t the answer. Any business owner or manager worth their salt know that they risk a snowball effect: less money spent on staff training or quality food suppliers could lead to drops in service standards – which in turn could lead to reductions in customer sentiment and visitor numbers. In a nutshell – it’s a sure-fire way to foreclosure.

Luckily, the management team and owners at the Great Western Hotel had more foresight than that!

The latest rises in energy costs seriously threatened the hotel’s financial viability. On top of that, the 150-year old building and entertainment area required urgent renovations and maintenance work to be completed.

The Great Western’s owners quickly found that a custom solar for hospitality solution was going to be the only way forward if they wanted to reduce their fixed costs and dependence on the electricity grid, increase cash-flow, and future-proof their operation.

The Solution

When the Great Western Hotel commissioned GEM Energy, we began our job by using our tried and tested 3-Way Approach: GEM Energy’s engineers analyzed the hotel’s consumption profile and electricity bills, checked out the site, and most importantly, checked in with the owners about their expectations and budget.

In October 2015, GEM Energy installed just over 57kW of solar panels across the hotel’s roof.

The installation came with some challenges, as the wiring and meters at this 150-year old pub were quited dated and unpredictable. Additionally, the system needed to be spread over 5 separate meters, which meant installing 5 separate solar systems to 5 separate meters on the one building.


System Size: 57kW spread over 5 separate systems on one building

Major system components:

217 x 265w QCELLS Panels
1 x ABB Trio 27.6kW 3-phase inverter
1 x ABB Trio 5kW 3-phase inverter
2 x ABB PVI 5kW inverters
1 x SolaX 5kW inverter

Financial Data:

System cost: $82,000 ex GST, financed privately through a bank loan
Electricity costs: 41% reduction in consumption in year 1
ROI: 31.5% with an estimated benefit of $22,132 in year 1
Payback: 3.2 years, cash-flow positive from the first quarter



The system has been working very well to date, with the massive reduction in running costs enabling the Great Western Hotel’s owners to renovate and expand the pub over the last year.

As for the future, there is excellent potential to add more solar as well as battery storage for night time use, as the entire range of our commercial and residential solar systems is readily expandable.


The Great Western Hotel had an imminent need to both renovate and innovate their operation, which prompted them to consider alternative energy generation options. Their decision to partner with GEM Energy to install a solar energy solution for their world-renowned venue has assured the overhead costs of one of their largest business expenses remains manageable both now and long into the future.

GEM Energy are excited to share this project with you as a prime example of how solar can make all the difference for a household, company or small business – no matter what sector you may operate in. With network and wholesale costs as the major burden on your ever-increasing energy bill, there’s never been a better time to opt for solar energy or go off the grid completely!

We are proud to have supported this iconic hotel’s continuing success story and would like to thank our hard-working installers out in the field, as well as the Great Western Hotel’s owners and management team for their trust in our company.

GEM Energy are dedicated to helping Australians like you escape the ever-tightening squeeze of your electricity bills and gain more energy independence. Get in touch for your free quote today!

Look No Further. Get Started Today.

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