Renewable energy is having its 15 minutes of fame in Melbourne, with the installation of a solar and battery storage system on the roof of the latest apartment complex to be renovated in the popular Nine Network reality TV series, The Block.
This year, The Block contestants are renovating a 90 year-old former soap factory in a former industrial area of Port Melbourne – an imposing art deco building that has not been connected to the grid for many years.
The rooftop solar system, supported by Diamond Energy – the energy retailer that has also supplied 100 per cent renewable electricity for construction at the site – comprises a 4.5kW Sun Power solar array with a Solax Box 30kWh battery storage unit.
And while the PV array is small for a five-apartment complex, Diamond Energy’s Scott Black says it is intended mainly to power the building’s communal rooftop garden.
The Block had a unique issue to solve, Black said; “how can a PV system support the common area power supply of the building in short peaking timeframes, with limited roof space, without impacting the aesthetics of the design.”
“The soap factory had not been connected to power for many years, so even the connection to the grid was not the simple process that you would expect.
On top of that, Black said that due to strict timeframes, and limited availability of a larger transformer, The Block had to be creative in looking at other ways to both conserve energy and offset consumption of the sort of energy-intensive luxuries The Block requires.
“Diamond Energy through our network of solar installers and manufacturers across Australia put our heads together to enable a solution that would support the base electrical infrastructure of the building and ensure that the rooftop garden could have luxuries like lighting, heating, and BBQ facilities,” he said.
“Not only is the solution sustainable it is also fully backed and able to be connected into the internet with remote monitoring, control capabilities & web portals,” Black added, noting that The Block team expected to add a Reposit grid management system to the site.
“This solution if the new owners so choose is also designed in such a way that it is totally expandable if required, utilising the remaining roof space … obviously without impacting on the stunning design of rooftop garden.”
The 30kWh lithium-ion battery, which is quite big in comparison to the solar, also suggests the potential to add more solar to the building in the future, and in the meantime, allows for the storage of grid electricity when prices are low.
“The battery system was designed to maximise interconnectability between solar and grid supply, realising large loads can occur,” Black told One Step Off The Grid in emailed comments.
“The solution not only supports the daytime consumption of the building network but the battery can also draw from the grid at opportune times at night during off peak times and assist to minimise the evening peak for the common area consumption,” he said.
“The first requirement for this year’s Block was to be sustainable and offset the carbon from the building process, but also to be functional and sustainable, long into the new life of the reconditioned soap factory,” Black said.