Massive 5.8MW solar car park completed in $73 million commercial PV blitz

A massive 5.8MW solar system has been installed to create shaded car parking at an Adelaide shopping centre, as part of a $73 million solar and energy management program by ASX-listed retail asset manager Vicinity Centres.

The huge Elizabeth City Centre solar car park project, which Vicinity has claimed is one of the largest of its kind, is part of a comprehensive commercial solar roll-out across 17 shopping centres across five states.

Another recently completed project, also in Adelaide, has installed 2.2MW of PV on a solar car park, and will add 548kWh of battery storage – which Vicinity claims is the “largest battery installation” at a shopping centre nationally.

That job – at Adelaides Castle Plaza shopping centre – has also been completed, according to a report in the Adelaide Advertiser this week.

“It’s an incredible milestone for our customers, retailers and our teams who have been patiently watching these projects come to life around Elizabeth City Centre and Castle Plaza,” said Vicinity’s chief strategy officer, Justin Mills, in comments to the Adelaide Advertiser.

“More than 12,000 solar panels have been laid across the two car parks, covering approximately 22,000 square metres, which is larger than Adelaide Oval.

“While we’re keeping cars cool over the summer months, the shades also help power our centres,” he said.

Mills said the program would also include installing electric vehicle charging stations at Elizabeth and Castle Plaza.

The company is also planning to trial the peer-to-peer energy trading platform of Perth-based company Power Ledger, starting at the Castle Plaza centre.

Mills has said the technology will be used to manage the shopping centre’s energy use and distribution in real-time, switching between solar and grid energy – and later, to supply renewable energy to the shopping centres’ neighbouring communities.

“Vicinity is one of the first property companies in Australia to be trialling energy blockchain technology and we’re committed to continuing that leadership through our integrated energy strategy,” said Vicinity’s head of shopping centre management, Justin Mills in comments on Tuesday.

“We understand internationally there are already property groups exploring Power Ledger’s platform however Vicinity is the first retail-based company globally to partner with them for this type of project,” he said.

Vicinity’s commercial solar blitz kicked off in May of 2018, when it announced the roll-out of more than 11MW of commercial solar across five shopping centres in Western Australia and South Australia.

In Stage 2, announced in September 2018, the plan was dramatically ramped up to a $75 million spend, across three more states – Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland – and adding “other energy technologies” to the mix, including Power Ledger’s peer-to-peer energy trading technology.

Power Ledger’s P2P platform is based on blockchain – the software that underpins bitcoin, the virtual currency that has proved popular in many markets.

The technology works to identify the ownership of energy as it is generated and then to manage multiple trading agreements between consumers who buy excess solar direct from the original owner/producer, without the addition of market costs and commercial margins.

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