Vicinity completes Australia’s largest solar car park installation

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From ClearVue’s transparent solar-generating glass to blockchain for distributing energy to neighboring communities, retail property group Vicinity Centers has taken a number of unique energy initiatives to buffer against electricity prices hikes. Under its landmark $73 million solar program set to provide 31 MW of clean energy to 22 shopping centres in six states, the company has now delivered Australia’s biggest solar car park.

The solar array covering 1,400 parking spaces was installed at Elizabeth City Centre in South Australia. The car park system is in addition to the 2.7 MW rooftop program which was completed last year and brings the total on-site capacity to 5.9 MW.

Another smaller car park with 430 shaded spaces was completed at Castle Plaza, complementing an existing 1.3 MW rooftop solar system. The installation was added as part of the latest stage of Vicinity’s national solar program, which has already generated more than 15 GWh of clean, renewable energy, helping power 17 centers across five states.

More than 12,000 solar panels have been laid across the two car parks, covering approximately 22,000 square meters, larger than the field at Adelaide Oval. The projected annual renewable energy generation from both sites in the first year is more than 11.5 GWh – enough to power more than 2,000 average SA homes for a year.

“While we’re keeping cars cool over the summer months, the shades also help power our centres, and we know our customers and communities will welcome the new undercover parking at Elizabeth City Centre and Castle Plaza,” Vicinity’s Chief Strategy Officer Justin Mills said.

The two installations join a growing pool of solar carparks installed  amid a lack of rooftop space on shopping centers. In another such initiative, Vicinity decided to expend its bifacial trial across an entire carpark at Ellenbrook Central Shopping Centre in Western Australia, after preliminary results from its first bifacial panels on Kurralta Central Shopping Centre in SA showed a 6-8% to 16-18% increase in output.

Vicinity had also begun a trial of a 548 kWh Sungrow-Samsung energy storage battery at Castle Plaza coupled with 2 MW of solar on the rooftop.“The Castle Plaza battery was key innovation in our $73 million investment in shopping centre solar and provides an on-site solution for storing and using any of the excess solar energy generated on-site,” Mills said.

Earlier this year, Vicinity upped the sustainability ante by announcing a net zero carbon target for its 34 wholly-owned shopping centers, to be reached through a combination of its solar program and energy efficiencies by 2030. “Our commitment to reducing our energy consumption and carbon footprint continues in 2020, when we will introduce four new electric vehicle parking stations across both Elizabeth City Centre and Castle Plaza,” Mills said.