CleanPeak to switch on massive 5 MW rooftop system


Australian commercial rooftop solar specialist CleanPeak Energy has announced the expansion of the 5 MW Tonsley solar project will be commissioned this week, more than doubling the green energy output at the former car manufacturing site turned “innovation precinct” in Adelaide’s southern suburbs.

CleanPeak, which owns and operates the Tonsley District Energy Scheme, said the expansion included the installation of almost 6,000 solar panels atop Renewal SA’s Line Zero building and TAFA SA’s campus.

The second stage significantly adds to the capacity of the original 2.34 MW solar system installed on the rooftop of Tonsley’s Main Assembly Building in 2020, which at the time was one of Australia’s largest rooftop systems.

Combined, the two stages comprise more than 13,000 panels, and CleanPeak Chief Executive Philip Graham said the massive system will generate more than 7,000 MWh of clean energy each year, bringing the 56-hectare Tonsley Innovation Precinct one step closer to being fully solar powered.

“The 5 MW solar project is one of the largest systems in the country,” Graham said. “Now that it is operational, it will provide around 80% of the precinct’s overall energy needs annually.”

The combined system comprises more than 13,000 panels, 34 inverters and approximately 15,000 metres of electrical cables.

Image: CleanPeak Energy

Graham said the Tonsley project underpins Sydney-based CleanPeak’s growing investment in South Australia, which includes a planned battery energy storage portfolio that will service multiple commercial sites across the state.

The first of these batteries is to be built at Tonsley and is expected to be online for summer 2022/2023.

“Our strategy is to couple the Tonsley system with a 3.3 MW battery, currently being developed for the site, which will allow storage of excess energy generation,” Graham said. “This will ensure the site is on track to reduce its carbon footprint and moves us closer to realising our ambition to power the site from 100% renewable sources.”

CleanPeak said the behind-the-meter battery will be delivered over three stages and at full capacity will reach 10 MW.

The Tonsley Innovation District, the former site of car maker Mitsubishi’s manufacturing plant, was purchased by the South Australian government more than 10 years ago with the vision of turning it into a climate-smart precinct housing research and education institutions, industry and manufacturing residents. Managed by Renewal SA on behalf of the state government, the district is now home to more than 140 businesses, including ZEN Energy, Tesla, AZZO and Siemens.

CleanPeak Energy CEO Philip Graham (left), with SA Planning Minister Nick Champion

Image: CleanPeak Energy

State Planning Minister Nick Champion said the commissioning of stage 2 of the rooftop solar system is another example of Tonsley’s commitment to sustainability.

“Renewables are the future, and it’s great to see Tonsley Innovation District and CleanPeak Energy pushing to not only create cleaner sources of energy but also providing storage capabilities for the future,” he said.

Champion said the project would aid the state in achieving its emissions reduction goals, including reducing carbon emissions by more than 50% below 2005 levels by 2030, and to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

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