Toyota installs 500kW rooftop solar array – Victoria’s largest

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A 2000-panel, 500kW solar PV system is installed at Toyota’s Altona North manufacturing plant – Victoria’s largest and the third largest in Australia.

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solar toyotaToyota Australia’s Melbourne manufacturing plant is now host to a 500kW rooftop solar system, after the project was completed by Sydney-based engineering firm Autonomous Energy, this week.

Autonomous announced on Monday it had finished installing 2000 Kyocera PV panels on the roof of  the Altona North engine factory, completing the largest roof-mounted PV system in Victoria, and the third largest in the country.

According to Toyota, the array is the first in Australia to directly connect to an industrial site’s internal high voltage network via a single 500kW central inverter and transformer, manufactured by ABB.

The system – which will be launched officially on Thursday, which will also be World Environment Day – is expected to generate enough energy to power the equivalent of 200 households.

The project – which had government support via the the Clean Technology Investment Fund – is considered to be an important demonstration of Toyota’s commitment to environmental sustainability, clean manufacturing and innovation.

“This installation is an excellent example to other businesses that large scale solar installations should be implemented not only to help the environment, but also to benefit the bottom line,”said George Phani, National Manager at Kyocera Solar, which is headquartered in Sydney.

So far, commercial solar has yet to hit it straps in Australia, stifled by a mess of government policy that has created unnecessary complexity and distorted the market. However, further deals are in the pipeline, if talk at last month’s Australian Solar Conference is correct.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance analysts recently declared that rooftop solar – both residential and commercial – had become an unstoppable force in the Australian market, that could see around 23GW of solar PV installed by 2030.

Last month, Swedish furniture giant Ikea announced plans to install 3.9MW of rooftop solar PV systems across all of its Australian east coast stores and warehouses, a project that would result in the nation’s largest commercial solar development so far.

The project – which will see more than 16,000 panels installed across IKEA Australia’s five stores in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales, as well as two merchandise pick-up locations – will have an annual output of 5,495 million kilowatt hours (MWh) of electricity; enough to power 778 family homes for a year.

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6 Comments
  1. Warwick 5 years ago

    So what happens when the factory shuts in 2017?

    • Peter Castaldo 5 years ago

      They would have been paying very low energy prices similar to the feed in tarrif, so the ROI will not change as dramatically as a smaller commercial installation. I can’t see how there could have been a business case in the first place unless there was a big government payout or tinkering + some clever accounting work for tax benefits. Perhaps there was some benefit for cutting the peak demand also but that benefit will be lost without a tenant. Many complicated factors I’m sure.

    • Ronald Brakels 5 years ago

      It’s just a building. Someone else will use it.

    • Roger Brown 5 years ago

      Large scale indoor growing shed for the Mafia ?

  2. Stan Hlegeris 5 years ago

    Without any special incentives a system this size would cost less than $1,000 per kilowatt.

    Each kilowatt of capacity will produce an average of about 4 kilowatt-hours per day, or 1,460 kilowatt-hours per year.

    If Toyota’s cost were 15c per kilowatt-hour for daytime electricity, each Kilowatt of PV would save $219 per year. At 20c it would be $292.

    Plus, as noted already, there may be an extra cash benefit for cutting peak demand.

    So the system will pay for itself in three or four years, making it a safe enough expenditure even if the building goes vacant when Toyota leaves. If it gets any additional return at all from a new occupant (by selling the system or selling electricity) then it becomes a clear winner.

    Toyota’s cost could well have been as low as $700 per kilowatt. At that level this installation makes sense even if Toyota plans to walk away after three years.

  3. John Hamill 5 years ago

    What about Jeff’s Shed? It has a huge roof area well suited 🙂

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