Redeployable solar trial at shopping centres

Redeployable solar is a very interesting topic as the issue of solar panel recycling comes to the fore. This week ARENA have announced funding for redeployable commercial solar via Australian startup Solpod. 

Redeployable solar

Redeployable solar – on Friday the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced funding for an Australian start up (Solpod Pty Ltd (Solpod)) to trial the installation of movable solar panels on commercial and government building rooftops. 

According to a post on the ARENA website, the startup has undertaken trials with ARENA, ERM Power, GPT and Property NSW.

Redeployable Solar Solpod
Redeployable Solar Solpod (source: solpod.com

Arena CEO Darren Miller, who took over from previous head Ivor Frischknecht last year, was quoted discussing the redeployable solar and their partnership with Solpod:

“Solpod’s new way of installing solar will pave the way for businesses who were previously locked out of rooftop solar to take up renewable energy solutions and options under shorter term power purchase agreements.

“This Australian start up will help to accelerate solar PV innovation and allows for renewable energy alternatives in niche markets, providing a cost-competitive alternative to standard methods of fixed mounting for delivering rooftop grid connected solar PV,” Mr Miller said.

There were also some comments from founder and CEO of Solpod James Larratt, who discussed the new ‘game-changing’ tech:

“Despite rooftop solar being cheaper and more sustainable than the grid, many businesses have made the rational decision to not adopt solar because of other factors such as length of commitment, disruption on site and damage to buildings. Solpod is the game-changer that removes these barriers and enables businesses to capture the savings in energy costs.”

“Solpod’s solution can adapt to meet individual business needs. For businesses that rent their premises, Solpod can offer short-term contracts to match lease terms. For landlords, Solpod allows flexibility for changing site use and will not damage the roof,” he said.

You can learn more about Solpod’s relocatable commercial solar via their website.

 

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Bifacial solar panels for commercial solar.

Vicinity Centres, who will provide 31MW of clean energy to 22 shopping centres and their retailers by the end of the year, is trialling bifacial solar panels to see how that will affect their choices for stage 3 of Vicinity’s solar program.

Bifacial solar panels for commercial solar.

According to an article in PV Magazine, the first bifacial panels were installed at Kurralta Central Shopping Centre to get a better yield from their available roof space. Initial tests showed 6-8% to 16-18% increased output (they tried a bunch of different locations and coatings on the roof to maximise output). 

 “It’s early days,” said Renae Sambrooks, General Manager of Energy and Commercial Management for Vicinity, “but results from Kurralta made us feel confident enough to install bifacials in three more centres.

“Over the next few months results of those trials will help us make decisions around our Stage 3 solar program,” she said in comments quoted in PV Magazine.

We’ve reported fairly comprehensively about Vicinity Centres and solar investment in the past – we’re also taken a look at the Stockland shopping centres and their commercial solar investment.

“As of today,” Sambrooks said, “we’ve produced 2.5MWh of clean energy from 13MW of installed capacity and we’re in the process of constructing the next 18 MW, which will be completed by the end of 2019.”

There are a few other bifacial solar panels available:

An article in Green Tech Media notes that the bifacial PERC modules can boost performance by a staggering 27%. 

The Bifacial Solar Panels at Kurralta are one of the first steps Vicinity Centres are making to end up with their 31MW of renewable energy output – Sambrooks discussed the long term goal:

“Our vision was to create intelligent energy destinations. We’re not just whacking solar panels on roofs. It’s a long-term investment and we’re always thinking how we can sweat the solar installations and all our other energy initiatives to make a return.”

Still very early days, so we’ll keep you updated how they go with the testing and what Vicinity decide to do with regards to commercial solar panels.

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Finley Solar Farm | Canadian Solar KuMax Modules

Canadian Solar have announced that the Finley Solar Farm will be using their KuMax modules and EPC services for the $170m project in New South Wales.

Finley Solar Farm | Canadian Solar KuMax Modules

Finley Solar Farm
Finley Solar Farm (source: FinleySolarFarm.com.au)

The Finley Solar Farm will use almost half a million Canadian Solar CS3U-P Kumax Panels with single axis tracking, according to SolarQuotes. The modules are ‘split cell/half cut’ with 144 cells per module. Canadian Solar don’t have a huge presence in Australia yet, and it looks like they are going to focus on commercial solar installations for the time being. The farm will cost around $170m and will be built 6km west of Finley (which is located around 140km west of Albury, which is a city in southern New South Wales with a population of around 51,000).  According to their website, the 175MW farm will be developed by ESCO Pacific, one of Australia’s leading renewable energy developers, with construction being managed by Signal Energy Australia.

Canadian Solar Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Shawn Qu discussed their input in the project:

“We are delighted to be selected by ESCO Pacific to provide EPC (Engineering, procurement and construction) services together with Signal Energy and to supply our 1500V crystalline module to this large-scale solar power plant,” said Dr. Qu in a statement on the official Canadian Solar website. 

The farm has started construction (which started in December 2018) and the Finley Solar Farm is expected to be completed in Q3 this year, so not long at all! The energy has already mostly been spoken for, with a 7 year PPA signed last July by ESCO Pacific and Bluescope for the Finley Solar Farm to sell 66% of its output to Bluescope – with the PPA (Power Purchasing Agreement) the biggest corporate PPA of its kind in Australia at the time. 

John Nowlan, the head of Australian steel at BlueScope, said the contract will be a step in the right direction while they continue to support the National Energy Guarantee and rely less and less on non-renewable energy:

“(The contract) will help keep downward pressure on our energy costs, and will support the gradual transition to renewable energy,” Mr Nowlan told the Australian Financial Review.

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Vicinity Centres To Install $75m of shopping centre solar.

Vicinity Centres revealed today that they will spend $75m to install solar at seventeen (instead of five) shopping centres in South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia, after previously indicating that thy would ‘only’ be spending $28m to roll our commercial solar across five of their shopping centres. This is being touted as ”Australia’s largest-ever property solar program”.

Vicinity Centres and Commercial Solar for Shopping Centres

Vicinity Centres Shopping Centre Solar
Vicinity Centres Shopping Centre Solar – Vicinity CEO/MD Grant Kelley and Premier of South Australia Steven Marshall.

We wrote about Vicinity’s initial shopping centre solar plan back in May, when the initial figure was $28m. The scope of what Vicinity are hoping to do have changed drastically over the last few months – and they have decided to throw almost 300% more money at the project and expand it to more states. 

Stage 1 will still involve 11MW of commercial solar across five shopping centres and is already underway.

The second stage is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. It involves extending the program to Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland – generating over 31,000MWh of solar energy each year. 

“We know our centres have a considerable footprint in our communities which is why we’ve committed more than $75 million towards stage one and stage two of our solar project,” said Vicinity’s head of shopping centre management, Justin Mills, in comments on the project repeated in One Step Off the Grid.

“This investment will generate clean power for our centres for the long term, make a positive environmental impact and deliver shared value for our customers, retailers and investors,” he said.

“As technology advances so does the business case for solar. We anticipate strong investment returns with the project to generate an internal rate of return of approximately 12 per cent, while also reducing our consumption from the national electricity grid by up to 40 per cent.”

Vicinity Solar Project Information and Timeline
Vicinity Solar Project Information and Timeline

The second stage rollout will also create over 300 solar jobs during the construction phase and 40 permanent roles once it’s completed.

Read the original press release by clicking here

 

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Ovida Community Energy Hub | Victorian Solar Grant

A generous grant for the $2m Melbourne based Ovida Community Energy Hub was announced by the Victorian state government this week. It’s been given a grant to help deliver affordable, dispatchable and reliable energy for occupants of apartment and commercial buildings.

Ovida Community Energy Hub

Ovida Community Energy Hub installers Jemena (source: jemena.com.au)
Ovida Community Energy Hub installers Jemena

The Ovida Community Energy Hub has been awarded a $980m grant from the Victorian government to install shared solar and battery storage systems in three as yet unchosen multi-tenanted buildings. 

It’ll be done in conjunction with a group of solar companies – the consortium behind the $2 million Ovida project includes Ovida themselves, shared/community solar company Allume Energy, distribution company Jemena, RMIT and the Moreland Energy Foundation.

“Microgrid projects are part of our plan to drive down energy prices, reduce emissions and create a pipeline of investment in renewable energy,” Victorian energy minister Lily D”Ambrosio said in a statement reported by One Step Off The Grid

“This initiative will allow more households and businesses in multi-tenanted buildings to take control of their energy bills.”

The project will generate 5000kWh of renewable energy and will also support 11,000kWh of energy storage when it’s complete 

“Traditionally solar arrangements in multi-tenanted apartment blocks have been all or nothing – meaning all residents had to invest in and use the system for it to work,” said Ovida’s Paul Adams while discussing the project. 

“We know this can be a challenge because apartment blocks often include long-term residents, owners, and short-term occupants who each have different energy needs and expectations.

Along with apartment solar, this is another great step for commercial solar in Australia – watching the government get involved like this bodes well for the future of these sorts of projects. As the price of electricity continues to rise more and more businesses will be looking to insure themselves against further rises and look at buying their energy from alternative sources.

 

 

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