Commercial landlord begins battery foray following major solar rollout


Enel X, the energy transition and innovation arm of Italian giant Enel Group, has formed a joint venture with Australia’s second largest retail property owner, Vicinity Centres, for the delivery and operation of onsite batteries at its shopping centres.

Work has commenced on the first two fit outs, at Broadmeadows Central in Victoria, and Lake Haven Centre in New South Wales. The projects have a combined capacity of over 5 MWh and are due for completion by mid-2023.

The batteries – the make and chemistries of which have not been made public – will be linked to Enel X’s virtual power plant (VPP) program, allowing them to play on wholesale energy markets and services markets.

Following the first two battery projects, the companies say there will be an opportunity to expand across the centres in Vicinity’s nationwide portfolio, potentially deploying more than 50 MWh of battery storage nationwide.

Vicinity launched its renewable energy strategy back in 2018, dedicating $73.2 million to its commercial solar rollout. Said to be Australia’s largest commercial solar program, its projects include Australia’s largest solar carpark, the deployment of ClearVue’s solar glass, and as of 2021 boasted a total of 25.2 MW of solar capacity across 20 sites.

The ClearVue glass atrium at Warwick Grove shopping centre, built from transparent energy- generating solar PV panels.

Image: Vicinity Centres and ClearVue Technologies

The company also uses automated demand management processes and says it is on track to reach a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2030 across it 32 wholly-owned assets.

The Enel X partnership is not Vicinity’s first foray into batteries though, with the company in 2019 trialling a 548 kWh Sungrow-Samsung battery at Castle Plaza in South Australia. The system was coupled with 2 MW of rooftop solar, as was primarily used for peak load shaving and shifting, as well as system firming. 

When completed in 2019, the installation at Elizabeth City Centre in South Australia was Australia’s biggest solar carpark at 3.2 MW.

Image: Vicinity Centers

On the other hand, the Enel X joint venture seems to have a heavy focus on using the solar-coupled batteries to generate returns through energy trading – though presumably solar shifting continues to play a role.

Under the joint venture, Enel X is responsible for procuring, operating and optimising the batteries to generate the most value from the energy markets, while Vicinity manages the engineering, procurement and construction process along with providing access to its infrastructure.

Vicinity is expanding its Chadstone car park to include 400 new solar shaded bays.

Vicinity Centres

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