The owner of Australia’s largest neighbourhood and convenience-based shopping centre portfolio, SCA Property Group has announced financial approval for an initial $12 million investment into onsite solar PV which will see 7.5 MW of solar installed across six of the group’s 91 shopping centres.
The initial focus will be on Western Australia with solar modules to be installed at the Currambine, Kalamunda, Kwinana, Stirling, Treendale and Warnbro shopping centres. The solar PV will be integrated with existing embedded networks on-site.
The group’s national sustainability manager, Tim Weale, told pv magazine the opportunity afforded by SCA’s $3.5 billion property portfolio, which comprises 91 assets spread across all the six Australian states and the Northern Territory, was too good to ignore.
“We are Australia’s largest owner of neighbourhood and convenience-based shopping centres and with that comes great opportunities considering the available roof space we have,” he said.
“We’re not the first property group to deploy solar across the portfolio but given we have over 90 shopping centres, we could become one of the biggest generators in the retail property space of renewable energy.
“We have aspirations to grow our renewable energy portfolio over the next five years. We’re not the first but we could be the biggest.”
The sector has seen a flurry of activity in recent years with Frasers Property Group stating on its website it has already installed 13.69 MW of solar PV across its portfolio while fellow Australian retail property major Vicinity Centres has also been active in the space.
Weale said SCA would look to make the most of the lessons learnt in recent years by others in both the property and solar industries.
“There have been real advancements in exploration, technology, panels, so we see that as a real bonus which will enable us to accelerate our program,” he said.
“There are so many design and delivery partners out there who have quite sophisticated capabilities now, we see that as a real advantage.
“While we may not be the first in the space, we get the benefit of all those lessons learnt.”
Weale said the group already has “a number” of power purchase agreements (PPAs) and embedded networks in place at some sites and the new solar PV installations will “build on top of that”.
The rollout of solar PV across the SCA portfolio is expected to form part of the group’s soon-to-be-released environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy which Weale said will bring it into line with the commitments made by its major retail partners.
“As the market moves toward a carbon zero economy, this is just the beginning of a number of important operational and strategic investments that SCA will make in the coming years,” he said, adding the group will announce its new ESG Strategy in August.
“Coles and Woolworths are our largest retail partners throughout our assets and they have both made their own commitments for net zero carbon targets by 2025 so as part of what our strategy we will be making our own announcement for our own targets for 2025 and 2030.
“We want to align with those from the majors, absolutely. They are right on board and very engaged in the renewable energy sector so we’re aligning ourselves with our major partners.
While SCA was unable to provide a firm date for commencement of the initial 7.5 MW solar rollout, Weale said the group is looking to move ahead as soon as possible.
“Once we’ve completed the design and have all the approvals in place we’ll look to commence on the ground as soon as practical,” he said.
“Ideally we would like to get in before the Western Australian summer.”
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