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Solar carpark to cover shopping center’s energy needs

As more and more shopping centres across Australia start to utilise solar PV atop their premises, carparks are becoming increasingly popular amid a lack of rooftop space. A solar array covering three double-parking bays at Dunsborough Centrepoint Shopping Centre will not only offer shade for shoppers but also almost completely cover the site’s daytime energy needs.

Dunsborough Centrepoint Shopping Centre has recently had an innovative renewable energy solution implemented to provide significant ongoing benefits to the community, tenants of centre and the South West of Western Australia. The project, completed by Perth-based solar energy and electricity retailer Infinite Energy, has recently been named as Solar Cutters 2019 Best Large Commercial Solar Installation.

Covering three double-parking bays, the 440kW solar carpark structure is the largest solar installation in Dunsborough. The solar system will almost completely cover the daytime energy needs of the shopping centre, significantly reducing the site’s electricity bills and providing substantial savings for the tenants. The system is expected to pay for itself in just seven years.

Infinite Energy CEO, Aidan Jenkins, said the solar car park project was an excellent opportunity to work with the South West Community. “We’ve always had a strong commitment to delivering quality solar solutions for local communities and assisting them in finding alternative ways to better manage their energy usage,” he said. “We’re very proud to have had the opportunity to be involved in this project, which will benefit the Dunsborough community for years to come.”

Elsewhere across Australia, a growing number of shopping centres are choosing solar-shaded parking. In Townsville, Willows Shopping Centre is looking to build 1.5 MW of solar PV to cover more than 500 new car spaces. The system is touted as one of the biggest solar car parks ever constructed in Australia. According to the project developer, Epho, the potential market for such systems is significant despite the high price tag and challenges in terms of design and installation that solar carparks come with.

In another innovative initiative, Vicinity Centers has decided to expend its bifacial trial across an entire carpark at Ellenbrook Central Shopping Centre in WA, after preliminary results from its first bifacial panels on Kurralta Central Shopping Centre in SA showed a 6-8% to 16-18% increase in output.

Last week, another carpark project was unveiled at Sydney’s MarketPlace Leichhardt shopping centre, featuring a 305 kW solar array. The second phase of the project, due to be completed by the end of the year, will see the centre’s installation capacity rise to around 430 kW.

Beyond retailers, other corporates are also turning to solar carports as their system of choice. For instance, Flinders University launched a massive solar carport earlier this year, designed by Solgen Energy and built by Tonkin Schutz. The solar array features 4,136 panels and is part of a broader 1.8 MW solar fleet, when combined with an additional 1,681-panel array that previously installed across six rooftops.

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