Commercial and industrial-scale PV projects continue to play a key role in driving Australia’s current rooftop solar boom, with the news this week that the Australian arm of discount supermarket chain, Aldi, has installed a massive 1MW array on its distribution centre in Brendale, Queensland.
The system, installed by Australian commercial solar specialist, Epho, follows up on a successful pilot program – also conducted by Epho – in 2016, which installed solar on a number of Aldi stores in NSW and Victoria.
The Brendale project, however, marks the largest so far to be installed by the German-owned company in Australia, although it has made major investments in solar across its European and US businesses.
In the UK, for example, Aldi has been working to put solar on 50 more stores by the end of 2017, adding to the more than 85,000 solar panels on all nine of its regional distribution centres and more than 275 stores across the UK, with a combined capacity of more than 22MW.
The UK arm of the business is reportedly also investigating the use of battery storage and demand side response applications.
In Germany, the majority of Aldi stores cool their merchandise and run their lighting on solar power, using most of the 95 million kWh of electricity generated by rooftop PV in their home country for energy self-sufficiency.
Similarly in Queensland, the 1MW array is expected to be sufficient to cover the daytime power requirements of the Brendale distribution centre.
The Brendale array, which is made up of more than 3,400 panels, will generate more than 1,454,300 kilowatt hours or 1,454 megawatt hours of solar electricity a year – enough to power more than 270 Queensland homes.
Echo operations manager Luke Butterworth said a key part of its work with Aldi has been to manage the complexities of installing solar in a “live operating” environment.
“To meet ALDI’s stringent requirements… (each) installation needed to happen in a ‘ghost-like’ manner with minimal disturbance to the normal operation to ALDI’s business,” said Butterworth in comments this week.
“The 1MW project allowed Epho to demonstrate every facet of our turnkey solar power solution to our customer, from project management, to stakeholder management, engineering and operations as well as work health and safety.”
Epho managing director, Oliver Hartley, said solar was “a perfect fit” for supermarkets, with large commercial solar systems able to supply “a significant chunk” of their electricity needs.
“Epho was selected for these ALDI projects because we have the competence and responsiveness required by large corporates like ALDI to deliver seamless projects in live operating environments.” Dr Hartley said.
“With the pilot stores and the 1 MW Distribution Centre in QLD, one of Australia’s largest rooftop solar projects, ALDI is well placed to drive a renewable energy powered revolution in the retailer industry across Australia,” he said.