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Origin Energy to build Australia’s biggest rooftop solar array

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Origin Energy and Zen Energy Systems are to build a 3MW solar system on the rooftop of the old Mitsubishi factory in Tonsley, Adelaide, in what will be the largest rooftop solar array in the country.

The awarding of the contracts was announced by the South Australian government this week. The intention to build the array was first announced late last year.

tonsley solarOrigin Energy will own the rooftop array and sell the output to the tenants of the Tonsley high tech centre (artists impression to the right), under a power purchase agreement that it is looking at replicating elsewhere in the country.

Indeed, Origin Energy managing director Grant King says the company is “changing its view” on electricity markets, and is particularly interested in the economics of utility-scale solar in Australia.

“We are working hard to understand economics of utility scale solar in Australia,” King told an analysts briefing.

javieraOrigin has also revealed it has bought a 40 per cent stake in the 69MW Javiera solar project in Chile (pictured right), which is being built by SunEdison in the Atacama desert, without subsidies, and will supply electricity mainly the nearby Los Pelambres copper project.

Origin Energy says this will also help it understand the economics of large-scale solar – both in international markets, and in Australia.

Zen – a tenant in the Tonsley complex – has been awarded the installation and maintenance contract.

“It’s a great job to get to ramp up our capacity and profile with a number of multi-megawatt jobs in the pipeline currently evolving for ZEN around Australia,” managing director Richard Turner said.

South Australia Innovation Minister Kyam Maher said the tender for the 3MW solar project had attracted a huge response from tenderers.

“Tonsley is fast gaining a reputation as an innovation precinct with a focus on sustainability and urban renewal, so it’s not surprising that a project of this size has attracted significant interest,” he said.

Climate Change Minister Ian Hunter said the project would add to South Australia’s credentials as a national leader in renewable energy.

Hunter noted that South Australia has 41 per cent of the nation’s operating wind farm capacity and one in four households have rooftop solar panels.

“If South Australia was a nation, we would rank second only to Denmark as the world leader in terms of installed wind power on a per capita basis,” he said.

Origin’s head of energy markets, Frank Calabria, said the company was delighted to be named preferred partner for the innovative Tonsley project, which will see Origin build, own, and retail the electricity generated by the 3MW solar array.

“We are excited about this project, which will be the largest rooftop solar array Origin has installed, as it builds on our solar leadership and demonstrates our renewed focus on our solar business.

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  • Daniel Ball

    Is everyone else also confused with Origins position on solar energy?? It appears on one hand they support it and on the other hand they don’t. Anyway, maybe the Abbott Government will believe in climate change if energy companies find success through selling solar rather than coal.

    • wideEyedPupil

      Think you’ll find they support situations they will exploit for commercial gain and oppose situations that will cause commercial loss for themselves. The ideology of inconsistent short term self-interest.

      • Raahul Kumar

        I’m in sad agreement with your point, which means that new Labour Government needs to crack down on the market, and insist on a higher Renewables Target. At least 50% by 2030 should be the goal.

  • Andrew Thaler

    Origin falsely claiming that they are installing it when actually Zen do all the work. Origin are just ensuring they keep the retail control of power… I remain a little more cynic about their actual motives in this situation.

    • disqus_3PLIicDhUu

      Richard would be clueless about this size install
      It’s only due to them having an office at Tonsley.
      They should have a large reputable electrical contracting organisation doing the job.
      After all the arrays are just an aspect of an electrical installation, which needs managing properly.

  • Beat Odermatt

    Great! This can strengthen South Australia as the leading solar/wind State. I understand that South Australia is now ahead of California in this regard. We should have ALL Government buildings powered by renewable energy. In my opinion, renewable energy should make up 80% of all energy used in Australia by 2040. It is achievable and reasonable.

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  • I’m interested to know if this project has progressed at all.. I can’t see panels on rooftops at the site in any satellite imagery from this year.