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Perth shopping centre installs 312kW solar array – WA’s largest

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One Step Off The Grid

Western Australia’s commercial solar market got a boost this week, after the state’s largest rooftop solar system, a 312kW array on the Broadway Fair Shopping Centre in the Perth suburb of Nedlands, was launched on Thursday.

The system, made up of a total of 948 PV panels supplied by SunEdison and installed by Infinite Energy, is expected to account for more than 30 per cent of the shopping centre’s electricity needs – almost 500,000kWh a year.

nedlands shopping solar

According to a statement, the installation followed a major structural upgrade to the the shopping centre which saw its entire roof replaced.

“We were looking for  solution to grow income as well as provide a buffer against escalating costs,” said Broadway Fair general manager Paul Avon-Smith.

“Sun Edison and Infinite Energy presented us with a solar solution that made strong economic sense with the environmental benefits of reduced carbon emission being a nice bonus.”

Avon-Smith said the big job – which required around 6km of wiring – was made exceptionally simple by the project team, who delivered it on budget.

Sun Edison, meanwhile, thinks the project could help deliver the message to more businesses in Western Australia – and perhaps around the country – that clean energy makes real and immediate economic sense.

“People are catching on in a big way that going solar is not only good for the environment, but translates into real cost savings,” said Sun Edison’s head of commercial and industrial sales, Nick Brass.

A boost to momentum in Australia’s commercial solar market – which has been slow burner compared to the residential market, and to commercial markets in comparable countries – would be welcomed by the local solar industry, which has so far endured the worst start to a year since 2012, in terms of growth.

As we reported in mid-February, PV growth in January 2016 faired even worse than in “a depressed” 2015, according to data from solar analysts SunWiz, with volumes falling back across every significant size bracket excluding the 7-10kW range and for systems 2.5kW and less.

This article was originally published on RenewEconomy sister site One Step Off the Grid. To sign up to the weekly newsletter click here

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  • suthnsun

    Difficult to understand the reticence of commercial solar purchasers, high prices , good self utilisation should give good business returns.

  • JeffJL

    Hmmm. I see a little bit of roof space not used.

    Such a no brainer. I don’t understand why more shopping centers do not cover their roofs in PV.

  • Ian

    Nice little project to analyse. We are not given much information, basically 312KW and 30 % of consumption. And total consumption of 500000KWH per year. 312 x 5 x 300 = 468 000KWH per year solar. The daytime consumption must be close to the installed solar ~300KW day time multiplied by say 10hrs = 3000 KWH. ( a reasonable assumption considering 2/3 of power use in the day and 1/3 at night.). On a good day the solar array could produce 312 x 5 = 1560KWH. 500000KWH saved would be roughly ( @ 20c/KWH) = $ 100 000 per year. The 312KW system would have cost (@ $1/W) $300 000. They could pay this off in 3 years.

    What would an oversized system of 450KW save them per year? The solar production curve is a camel hump shape. The peak production only occurs for one or two hours mid day then drops off either side of the curve . A 50 % oversized system might gain an extra 20 % usable solar say extra $20 000 saving per year. The extra cost of the system would be $150 000. 7 years pay back. Still not a bad pay back time.

    Would batteries added to this system be worth while? The extra part of the oversized system would be 150KW. Of the 750KWH produced on an ideal day 40% , would be produced under the 300KW maximum consumption limit and usable. The rest wasted, because there is no need for it and because it cannot be fed back to the grid. So storage of 750 KWH x 60 %. = 450 KWH of storage needed. Cost of storage @$1000/KWH $450 000; savings on grid power $30 000. Therefore payback time of storage component 15 years. Not so economically viable to store any excess power generated by an oversized system. That excess power could be used in ice storage air conditioning or hot water heating or free EV charging for 10 or 15 vehicles! Bringing the cost of batteries down to 1/3 the price would make storage worthwhile.

    • Ian

      The point of above analysis is to demonstrate just how cheap solar power can be. Three years payback time. In fact adding excess solar is still worthwhile. For a business not to install solar is a criminal waste of investors money. If I invested in a business and they refused to install the maximum reasonable amount of solar I would not be happy. In fact if my church or bowls club did not install solar I might move to a different organisation.

      Next time you speak to your club’s president say ” why the heck have you not installed solar? Stop wasting our funds.”

  • nakedChimp

    Yay! Finally some movement in that area.
    I especially like how they moved most of the chimneys onto the side that’s not used for solar.. prolly south. And they got a nice catwalk installed.

  • Phil

    Yes this is fabulous news , and the start of something big. These shopping centers tend to be able to be built strong enough to take solar panels and often have unshaded car parking that could be solar and shade.

    As the owners state it’s wasted space that now makes money for them by offsetting costs. A win ,win ,win for everyone