Solar shopping in the Sunshine State

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Four shopping centres in Queensland (QLD) and one in Victoria (VIC) are set for 15 MW of solar installations as QLD Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the State’s partnership between Yurika, an Energy Queensland owned company, and the Queensland Investment Corporation (QIC), at the Smart Energy Council’s Stimulus Summit. 

Interestingly, the partnership is not limited to solar PV but also energy storage, 24/7 monitoring technology and the potential installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. 

The shopping centres in question are the Logan Hyperdome, Toowoomba Grand Central, Robina Shopping Town, Domain Central in Townsville and also the Melbourne Water Gardens in Victoria (VIC). Townsville’s Domain Central is at the front of the queue and it is expected to be the first shopping centre in the country to be 100% renewably self-sustaining within three years. 

“This is an exciting step towards Queensland’s clean energy future,” said Premier Palaszczuk. “We’re on track to exceed 20% of energy from renewables this year and on target to reach 50% by 2030.” 

QLD Energy Minister Anthony Lynham chipped in to remind us of the downward pressure renewables put on electricity prices. “Queensland has the energy trifecta,” noted Lynham, “the lowest average prices on the eastern seaboard, reliable supply and a planned path to a renewable future.” 

Only the beginning 

For Yurika executive General Manager Carly Irving this 15 MW rollout is only the beginning. “The five sites are the first phase of a long-term partnership with QIC,” said Irving, “with the potential to support QIC with emerging opportunities in Energy such as the evolution of their embedded networks, EV charging services, Virtual Power Plants and the addition of technology such as batteries in the future.” 

For QIC, the owner and manager of over AUD$20 billion worth of retail and commercial properties across Australia and the U.S., the uptake of renewables, particularly solar PV, is a dual opportunity to both reduce its carbon footprint and its electricity costs. “This renewable-energy-as-a-service approach will provide reliable, clean energy for our centres and our retail partners,” said QIC GRE Managing Director Michael O’Brien, “…and reducing (sic) electricity consumption by up to -30% across the portfolio.” 

Sunshine State or Solar State? 

It has been a big week for solar in the Sunshine State. In addition to the announcement of the 15 MW solar rollout across four QLD sites in QIC’s portfolio, the Premier also announced the installation of 190,000 solar panels on schools across the state to power new air-conditioning units in teaching areas. And if these two projects weren’t encouraging enough, French renewable giant Neoen made firm its plans to go ahead with a massive solar farm in QLD’s Western Downs region. The Western Downs Green Power Hub is expected to have a capacity in the range of 400 MW, which would make it Australia’s largest solar farm.