Retail property group Vicinity Centers has announced the expansion of its solar program with around $50 million of additional investment in solar and renewable energy technology across a further 17 shopping centers nationally.
Stage two will add around 20.6 MW of solar, which will generate more than 31 GWh to be used on-site as a buffer against electricity prices hikes.
The announcement builds on stage one of Vicinity’s solar program introduced earlier this year, with $28 million committed towards 11.2 MW rooftop and car park shade solar installations at five shopping centers across South Australia and Western Australia.
The company says work is already underway on the stage one projects, which are expected to set a few records in Australia’s commercial solar market segment.
The 5.8 MW array at Elizabeth City Centre (SA) is said to be the nation’s largest single solar installation, while Castle Plaza (SA) is touted to feature Australia’s largest battery installation at a shopping center – 500 kWh battery storage system coupled with 2.24 MW of solar.
As part of stage one, the company also revealed plans to roll out Australia’s largest car park shade solar installation at 5.6 MW, across four sites.
“We know our centers 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,“ says Executive General Manager Shopping Centre Management, Justin Mills.
While having trial zones of bifacial solar panels, cloud tracking technology and fast charging stations for electric vehicles, Vicinity’s focus will remain on solar combined with battery storage.
“As technology advances so does the business case for solar. We anticipate strong investment returns with the project to generate an IRR of approximately 12%, while also reducing our consumption from the national electricity grid by up to 40%,” Mills says.
According to Vicinity, at least 300 highly-skilled jobs will be created during the implementation of this second stage with another 40 permanent, on-going positions nationally once the project is completed.
Stage two is pencilled in for completion in late 2019.