Vicinity Centres to launch $28m Solar Project

Australia based retail asset management company Vicinity Centres have advised that they will spend $28m to install 11.2MW of solar power on top of five shopping centres in two states. 

Vicinity Centres shopping centre solar project

Vicinity Centres Solar Project
Vicinity Centres Solar Project (source: afr.com)

The Vicinity Centres project will involve the installation of 39,000 solar panels across  Castle Plaza, Elizabeth City Centre and Kurralta Park in South Australia and Ellenbrook Central and Currambine Central in Western Australia. The panels will be able to generate 17.4 GWh of electricity each year. 

Vicinity chief executive Grant Kelley spoke about their reasons for starting up the project:

“The energy generated by the solar and battery systems will be used on site, reducing reliance on the grid and helping give our retailers and our business a buffer from a volatile energy market,” he said.

 
The Vicinity solar project will also be looking forward in terms of solar panel technology – utilising ‘trial zones’ for double-sided solar panels, cloud tracking technology and even fast charging stations for EVs (electric vehicles). 

Shopping centres have seen quite a lot of private solar investment over the past year or so – the Stockland shopping centres have started work on a 12.3MW rollout of rooftop PV solar on their premises. The Stockland solar project is expected to generate around 17.2GWh of energy per annum and cost around $23.5 million to install their 39, 000 panels. Since they use such a massive amount of electricity it makes sense to insulate themselves from the seemingly inexorable electricity price hikes. 

Llewellyn Motors install 332kw solar system in Ipswich.

Llewellyn Motors in Ipswich have installed a 1232-panel, 332-kilowatt solar system on the roof of their car dealership, creating Australia’s largest privately-owned solar power station. 

Llewellyn Motors’ Solar System

The Ipswich car dealership worked in conjunction with Planet Ark Power to install the solar system, and according to Llewellyn’s general manager James Sturgess it has already saved the company approximately $7,000 in power costs since it was turned on in October.

Llewellyn Motors Solar System - Planet Ark Power
Llewellyn Motors Solar System – Planet Ark Power (source: Planet Ark Facebook)

“Basically this takes care of half our energy needs,” Mr Sturgess told QT.

“The model we’ve put together is for this system to be cash flow positive from day one. We’ve been able to achieve 90% of our target straight away, and that’s taking into account a few rainy days.”

They are still in negotiations with Energex and the State Government with regards to feeding power back into the grid. In either case, the Llewellyn Motors solar set up is unique in that includes a special type of battery storage which uses data projections and previous information to decide when it should switch on and off. This battery will help reduce peaks in consumption and cut their solar bill further. 

According to the executive director of Planet Ark Power, Richard Romanowski, their proprietary dSTATCOM software is a key driver of the ‘smart battery’ that helps the company save so much money and decide which to charge/discharge:

“This system is going to save them thousands of dollars a month,” Mr Romanowski said.

“The key is in the way the smart battery reduces the customer’s demand charges; it’s a battery plus software.”

This is another example of commercial solar continuing to gain ground in Australia – last week we reported on Stockland shopping centres rolling out 12.3MW of solar across 10 of their venues. We’ve also seen Aldi installing solar systems at their distribution centres, Office supply company Complete Office Supplies’ private solar investment in June this year was a massive $1m in rooftop PV solar at their Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne warehouse locations. No doubt there’s plenty more to come. 

Stockland Solar Power Rollout – 12.3MW

Stockland Solar installs – Australia’s biggest diversified property company have announced that they will partner with Todae solar to roll out Australia’s largest ever property solar project at 10 of Stockland’s shopping centres.

Stockland Solar Shopping Centres

Their September press release noted that the $23.5 million investment will see Stockland install more than 39,000 PV panels, on roof space on retail centres in areas such as Merrylands, Burleigh Heads, Point Cook and Wendouree in Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. They are aiming to install 12.3MW across 10 shopping centres, at a cost of $23m a year. This will generate around 17GWh of solar per annum. 

Mark Steinert, Managing Director and CEO of Stockland discussed their plan in the release, saying:

“We are 100% committed to investing in sustainable energy. We’re extremely proud to be setting a new standard in solar for Australian property which will help create clean, green energy for our retailers, our customers and the communities we operate in.

“We’ve already invested more than $4.5 million in successful solar projects at four of our shopping centres in NSW and this project will extend our reach across 10 of our centres on the east coast.”

Stockland Solar Powered Shopping Centres
Stockland Solar Powered Shopping Centres (source: stockland.com.au)

Combined, the project is expected to produce 17.2 GWh of energy every year, the equivalent to driving an electric car around the world 2,381 times.

Todae will help Stockland install solar at Stockland Shellharbour, Stockland Wetherill Park and Stockland Nowra shopping centres in NSW. They’ll also expand an installation at Stockland Green Hills. To date, Stockland solar have generated over 2.3 million kWh of energy – the company owns and operates the most green star rated shopping centres in Australia.

“Investing in technology like solar energy is not only environmentally sustainable, it also makes good business sense. Our forecast average yield over a 10 year period is 11.6 per cent on capital invested, generating strong shared value for both our investors and our communities,” Mr Steinert said.

This solar installation will bring the company closer to its target for a 60% carbon intensity reduction for its office and retail assets over the FY06-FY25 period.

Last year Stockland was recognised as the most sustainable real estate company in the world in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and achieved Global Sector and Regional Sector Leader status in the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) survey in the category Diversified – Retail/Office. 

Stockland is also going to spend $200,00 on installing Tesla Destination Chargers across 31 Stockland shopping centres, according to One Step Off The Grid

Stockland’s shopping centre solar rollout will be across the following centres:

  • Stockland Caloundra, Qld
  • Stockland Merrylands, NSW
  • Stockland Hervey Bay, Qld
  • Stockland Bundaberg , Qld
  • Stockland Traralgon, Vic
  • Stockland Burleigh Heads, Qld
  • Stockland Point Cook, Vic
  • Stockland Cairns, Qld
  • Stockland Green Hills, NSW
  • Stockland Wendouree, Vic

This represents another massive step forwards for commercial solar and we are sure we’ll see many other companies follow Stockland’s lead and start generating as much of their own power as they can. 

Sydney Renewable Power Company builds 520kw PV Solar Array at Darling Harbour ICC

Sydney Renewable Power Company, chaired by fashionista Carla Zampatti’s daughter Allegra Spender and Andy Cavanagh-Downs, have raised $1.43m in funds from the public to fund a 520kw PV solar array on the roof of the brand new Darling Harbour International Convention Centre.

Shares were offered at $2,750 each and reached the target amount easily, with even the interested Zampatti missing out as Spender advised that ‘family goes last in that situation’.

Sydney Renewable Power Company
Sydney Renewable Power Company’s Darling Harbour ICC Solar Panels

Sydney Renewable Power Company

SRPC offered the public 519 shares in the project, which spans the size of 12 tennis courts and will sit on the top of the brand new $1.5b International Convention Centre, located at Darling Harbour. This offering was a great way for the public who want to invest in solar but don’t have the opportunity to do it at their residence. Cavanagh-Downs was quoted as telling The Fifth Estate:

“So many people in the community want to see a faster transition towards renewable energy generation than is currently occurring,” he said. “SRPC provides those individuals the opportunity to speed up this transition by allocating capital to the financing of such projects.”

Sydney CBD Suburban/Regional Shopping Centre Solar

When the construction of this rooftop solar array was approved in 2013, it represented the largest rooftop solar installation in Australia. The ICC project has since been overtaken (by over 200%) by the efforts of GPT in Darwin, where the Casuarina Square PV array boasts a 1.25MW (megawatt), 2030MWh p.a. (megawatt hours) size, enough to power 310 households. Stockland in Shellharbour  (1.2MW in Illawarra with 3991 PV panels, generating 4,789kWh per day) and Weatherill heights (925kW with 2,900 PV panels, generating 3,620 kWh per day) also have larger rooftop solar installations. It’ll be great to see what Stockland come up with next as they have shown themselves as being a market leader in creating environmentally friendly developments with a strong emphasis on solar.

CEO of Commercial Property at Stockland, John Scroder, was quoted to InsideRetail as saying “Our investment in sustainability initiatives like solar not only provide a number of environmental benefits but also new jobs and financial savings for our retailers.”.