Parking on Sunshine, Brimbank Council switches on new solar-powered carpark

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The City of Brimbank, located approximately 20 kilometres from Melbourne’s CBD and the metropolis’s second-largest municipality, has successfully installed an 82kW solar array on the top of its multi-deck carpark in the serendipitously named suburb of Sunshine. 

The multi-deck car park is the latest in a string of Brimbank Council buildings to make the move to solar as the Council looks to achieve its initiative to source 100% of its energy for Council buildings and streetlights through renewable energies by 2021, and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2023. 

Brimbank Mayor, Georgina Papfotiou said the solar power generated by the car park’s solar panels would provide nearly all the electricity required for the car park. Indeed, the array is expected to produce enough energy for a surplus to be used to help power the Council’s growing fleet of electric vehicles (EVs). Indeed the solar carpark itself is complete with a dual-port EV charging station. 

“This is a great initiative that will provide free, clean and renewable electricity, the equivalent to the annual power needs of 26 houses,” said Papafotiou. “It will power the car park’s lifts, lighting and equipment,” continued Papafotiou, and “it will also act as a roof over 23 car spaces on the top level of the multi-deck carpark.” 

The multi-deck carpark installation also adds to the growing trend across the country of shopping centres and carparks opting for the win-win of solar-shaded parking. Be it a 440kW array covering three double-parking bays in Dunsborough or a 1.5 MW installation covering more than 500 car spaces at Willows Shopping Centre in Townsville. 

Of course, the trend is by no means limited to shopping centres, last year Flinders University installed 4,135 panels as part of its massive solar carport, designed by Solgen Energy and built by Tonkin Schutz. 

Since 2016 Brimbank City Council has installed solar panels on 34 of its buildings, generating near on one megawatt in total energy. Each year clean solar energy generation saves the Council approximately $270,000. 

However, the runout’s success is not to be slowed, according to the Council’s Greenhouse Reduction Strategy there is still enough roofspace for a further 1.5MW of solar PV capacity at Council sites. To achieve its 2023 emissions reductions targets the Council is looking to optimise its remaining solar PV capacity, a venture that would pay for itself in a mere five years. 

Brimbank Council also boasts Victoria’s largest rooftop solar system, a 1.4MW solar PV array located atop Sunshine Plaza in Sunshine Town Centre. Brimbank’s high penetration of rooftop solar ensures the municipality is also a ready-made market for the growing energy storage industry.  

In December last year, Brimbank City Council endorsed the draft Brimbank Climate Emergency Plan 2020-2025. Public feedback on the plan can be provided here until 26 February 2020.