Toowoomba first stop as Yurika installs 15MW of solar on Queensland shopping centres

rooftop solar system panels up close renters


A Queensland government-backed plan to install 15MW of rooftop solar across five major shopping centres across the state is underway, starting with a 1MW array at the Grand Central in Toowoomba.

State energy minister Anthony Lynham said on Thursday that more than 2400 solar panels were in the process of being installed on the Toowoomba shopping centre’s rooftop, with a generation capacity just under 1MW, once complete.

The installation is part of a deal struck between Queensland government-owned utility Yurika Energy and QIC Global Real Estate, as reported here back in May.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the deal in a speech to the Stimulus Summit – one of Australia’s first major Covid-era online webinars that was co-hosted by RenewEconomy and the Smart Energy Council.

As RenewEconomy has previously explained here, Yurika is an “arms-length” Queensland government entity, born out of necessity to deal with “ring fencing” issues that limit the ability of state-owned network operators to invest in storage and deal directly with customers.

Yurika also operates the state’s demand management incentive scheme, which at the start of last year had some 135MW of combined capacity and entered the market on at least 60 occasions.

With its Smart Connected Solar hat on, Yurika is installing the panels for QIC at Grand Central and three other Queensland shopping centres – Domain Central in Townsville, Hyperdome at Logan, and Robina Town Centre at the Gold Coast.

At the time of the announcement, QIC said the solar rollout would make Queensland’s largest bulky goods shopping centre, Domain Central, fully energy self-sufficient within three years, and reduce grid electricity consumption by up to 30% across its portfolio of retail assets.

According to Grand Central operations manager Simon Wilkinson, the solar array currently being installed will not only cut costs and carbon emissions for the shopping centre, but will provide “significant relief” to the energy network in the surrounding Toowoomba community.

“We are looking forward to being able to access reliable, clean energy whenever it is needed,” Wilkinson said. “This new technology will reduce Grand Central’s carbon emissions by 1028 metric tonnes of CO2 every year.”

Yurika acting executive general manager Carly Irving said the Smart Connected Solar shopping centre roll-out would include 24/7 monitoring technology, as well as the capability to add batteries and other technologies such as electric vehicle charging stations.

“This partnership is about both lowering the cost of energy and improving the environmental performance of large shopping centres,” Irving said.

“Yurika is delivering the latest renewable ‘smart’ technology which brings greater financial savings and improved carbon emissions.”

“Queensland has an economic strategy for recovery from the pandemic, and it includes supporting jobs in emerging industries like renewable energy,” said minister Lynham.

“Our renewable energy revolution has already seen 40 large-scale projects operational, under construction or financially committed over the past five years, representing more than 6000 jobs, including four in the Toowoomba region.

“These projects are generating jobs and business, putting downward pressure on power prices and cutting emissions.”

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