The major commercial solar and storage plans of ASX-listed retail asset manager Vicinity Centres have been extended by a further $50 million, across a further 17 shopping centres.
The new plan for Vicinity takes its investment in solar and other energy “technologies” to around $75 million, and is expected to cut the commercial property giant’s grid power usage by 40 per cent.
Vicinity, in May, announced the roll-out of more than 11MW of commercial solar in a $28 million project that would incorporate five shopping centres across Western Australia and South Australia.
As we reported, that plan – Stage 1 – was expected to notch up a couple of records for Australia: the largest single commercial array (5.8MW at Elizabeth City Centre in SA) and the “largest battery installation” (500kWh) at a shopping centre nationally.
According to Vicinity, work is already underway at five centres in SA and WA as part of the first stage of installations, with stage two expected to be completed in late 2019.
Stage two, announced on Monday, extends the solar rollout to three more states – Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland – and will generate more than 31,000MWh of solar energy a year, according to Vicinity.
Combined, the company says it will create “the largest property solar program in the country in scale and investment,” and could even rank among the top 10 biggest corporate solar projects in the US.
“We know our centres have a considerable footprint in our communities which is why we’ve committed more than $75 million towards stage one and stage two of our solar project,” said Vicinity’s head of shopping centre management, Justin Mills, in comments on Monday.
“This investment will generate clean power for our centres for the long term, make a positive environmental impact and deliver shared value for our customers, retailers and investors,” he said.
“As technology advances so does the business case for solar. We anticipate strong investment returns with the project to generate an internal rate of return of approximately 12 per cent, while also reducing our consumption from the national electricity grid by up to 40 per cent.”
Mills said the second stage solar rollout would also contribute to the broader economy, by creating more than 300 highly-skilled jobs during construction, and 40 permanent, on-going positions once the project is completed.
“We’re committed to energy leadership targeting renewable energy, combined with battery and other storage technology and creating efficiencies across our portfolio, as part of Vicinity’s Integrated Energy Strategy,” he said.
“The program supports our focus to create sustainable, market-leading shopping, dining and entertainment destinations.