Sunshine Plaza claims solar title

Sunshine Plaza claims solar title

26 July 2019

The owners of the aptly-named Sunshine Plaza in Melbourne’s west have installed what they claim is the largest commercial solar roof installation in Victoria, turning the complex into one of the city’s greenest retail precincts.

The recently completed installation comprises 4,175 solar panels with the capacity to produce up to 1.4 million kWh of energy per year, or about 45 per cent of the plaza’s electricity needs or enough energy to power 245 homes.

The renewable energy installation will offer substantial cost savings for tenants as well as extra protection against spikes in energy prices.

And in a win for the environment, the initiative will eliminate more than 1,414.9 tonnes in carbon dioxide emissions annually—equivalent to removing around 815 cars from the road.

“We understand we have a considerable footprint in our community, which is why we’ve made significant investment towards Sunshine Plaza’s solar project,” says centre manager Ian Simpson.

The solar project is just one green initiative as part of Sunshine Plaza’s commitment to environmental sustainability which also includes the installation of LED lighting and continuous improvements to the Plaza’s energy footprint.

“The project encompasses all aspects of what we can do for Sunshine, with particular emphasis on people, sustainability, environment and the community,” adds Simpson.

Shopping centres have become an increasingly attractive host for large-scale solar projects.

The combination of a large amount of available roof space, with a demand load that aligns well with solar generation, means they are the ideal location for such installations.

Other commercial property developers such as Vicinity, Lendlease, GPT Group, Stockland and others are also looking to cut costs and improve their sustainability credentials by retrofitting their developments with roof solar panels.

Earlier this month, shopping centre landlord Vicinity set a net zero carbon emissions target by 2030 for its 34 malls. The company plans to reach that ambitious target by using solar power and energy efficiency measures to reduce its carbon footprint.

Vicinity is already into the second stage of $73 million program with solar arrays being installed across 22 shopping centres in six states. It has already switched on 12 rooftop solar energy systems, which are delivering more than 5000MWh.

Diversified property trust, Stockland, plans to cover the rooftops of 10 of its shopping centres with 6.4 hectares of solar panels.

Australia has the highest uptake of residential rooftop solar in the world, with more than two million households powered, at least in part, by the sun.

While solar in the commercial sector has seen a slower rate of adoption, market leaders are wide awake to its potential to save money and cut carbon emissions.