The first stage of what could be the biggest solar and battery system on a shopping centre in Australia has been completed, with the installation of 2.6MW of rooftop PV solar and 12 onsite batteries with a combined capacity of 4MW/10MWh of storage.
The solar and battery microgrid, which is being developed in stages to up to 10MW of PV and 20MWh of energy storage, is being developed through a partnership between specialist renewables fund CEP.Energy and the privately-owned retail facility, the Narellan Town Centre (NTC).
CEP.Energy launched the completed first stage on Friday, with federal energy minister Chris Bowen in attendance to inspect the 2.6MW of rooftop solar, made up of more than 5,600 panels.
The solar, along with the batteries are now providing the Western Sydney shopping centre’s 270 tenants with
around 35% renewable energy.
The project was first announced at the end of 2020, when One Step reported that it was shaping up to be the biggest single solar and battery system to be installed on any shopping centre in Australia – and there are many.
Three years later, it looks like this still stands.
The next in line, in terms of solar, might be the 5.8MW array installed at the Vicinity Centres-owned Elizabeth City Centre in Adelaide in 2018. Vicinity’s Castle Plaza Centre, meanwhile, might have the next biggest battery system, at 500kWh.
CEP.Energy CEO Peter Wright says the project, which kicked off during the Covid-19 pandemic, had overcome supply chain issues and other challenges to reach the milestone this week.
“We now look forward to working on stage two at Narellan Town Centre which has the potential to deliver an enhanced solar system totalling 10MW, and increased battery storage of up to 20MWh,” he said on Friday.
Following a major expansion completed in 2017, NTC ranks as one of Australia’s largest privately owned shopping centres, with 76,000sqm of retail lifestyle and entertainment precincts containing over 220 speciality retail outlets, a cinema complex and 3,000 car spaces. It is jointly owned by Dart West Retail – a partnership between the Vitocco and Perich families.
CEP.Energy has 30-year lease agreement with NTC covering around 35,000 square metres of rooftop. Under the agreement, CEP.Energy will invest up to $40 million to install, own and operate the embedded solar and battery network.
The company used RACV Solar to supply and install stage one of the project as well as local sub-contractors over the course of the job.
Wright says commercial and industrial rooftop solar and battery projects have strong potential to accelerate Australia’s transition to renewables.
“The opportunity to replicate this type of large-scale, rooftop microgrid project across commercial and industrial assets in Australia is significant, particularly in south-west Sydney with its pipeline of development projects to service the new Western Sydney Airport,” he said.