Airport solar in Australia could power the nation

The boffins at the Journal of Building Engineering have released a report showing that if Australia were to install solar panels on top of the 21 government owned and run airports in the country, we’d be able to produce 466 GWh p.a., or roughly 140,000 homes per year.

Airport solar in Australia

The website Popular Mechanics have published some more information about the study from the Journal of Building Engineering, with lead study author Athenee Teofilo painstakingly mapping each and every airport to identify 2.61km2 of usable rooftop space. And since the roofs are usually flat, they’ll receive even more solar power than domestic panels (where solar panels absorb less energy with a slanted roof).

According to the report, Perth airport represents the best energy generating potential, but any airport with a “decent solar system” would be self-sufficient and will also generate enough to feed energy back into the grid.

It’s not like some airports aren’t already giving this a red hot crack – back in 2017 the $11m 6MW Brisbane Airport Solar System was announced – in FY20 the panels generated a gigantic 9.72GWh of renewable energy. Interested in further detail? You can read a case study about the Brisbane Airport Solar System on by clicking here. They mention planning to add another 5MW by 2025, so it’d be nice to see the rest of Australia following suit.

A press release on EurekAlert! has some choice quotes from lead researcher and geospacial scientist at RMIT’s school of science, Dr Chayn Sun (I know!):

“We can’t rely on small residential solar panels to get us to a zero-emission economy but installing large panels at locations like airports would get us a lot closer,” she said.

“We hope our results will help guide energy policy, while informing future research in solar deployment for large buildings.

“There’s so much potential to facilitate national economic development while contributing towards greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.”

Sun also noted that her team’s research only mapped airports owned by the Australian federal government – not the >150 privately owned airfields which could also benefit from solar panel installation.

‘Investigating potential rooftop solar energy generated by Leased Federal Airports in Australia: Framework and implications’, with Athenee Teofilo, Dr Chayn Sun, Nenad Radosevic, Yaguang Tao, Jerome Iringan and Chengyang Liu, is published in the Journal of Building Engineering (DOI: 10.1016/j.jobe.2021.102390).

Shopping Centre Solar Power at Vicinity

Vicinity Centres’ $73.2 million solar PV rollout continues as another two shopping centres have solar powered installed on their premises – all part of Vicinity’s Integrated Energy Strategy which now includes 17 shopping centres (out of an announced 22) with commercial solar installed on their roofs.

Vicinity Centres’ Shopping Centre Commercial Solar Installation

Back in 2018 Vicinity Centres announced that they’ll be laying a cumulative 191km of solar panels (not in a line, although that’d look cool) to install shopping centre solar on 17 of their premises. Touted at the time as “Australia’s largest-ever property solar program”, it’s been adjusted slightly and now consists of a mammoth 31.8MW over 22 sites, or the equivalent of powering 8,346 houses annually.

Karratha City shopping centre and Runaway Bay centre are the latest to have their solar systems turned on with the former consisting more than 6100 solar panels –  the 2.3MW project will generate 3,900 MWh p.a. and costs $6m. The Runaway Bay centre solar program is a little more modest at 1.3MW; costing $2m, the shopping centre solar project will generate over 2,100 MWh p.a. from its 2,900+ panels.

Executive General Manager Shopping Centre Management Justin Mills was quoted early on in the piece as saying: “We know our centres have a considerable footprint in our communities which is why we’ve committed more than $75 million towards stage one and stage two of our solar project.

“We’re committed to energy leadership targeting renewable energy, combined with battery and other storage technology and creating efficiencies across our portfolio, as part of Vicinity’s Integrated Energy Strategy. The program supports our focus to create sustainable, market-leading shopping, dining and entertainment destinations,” Mr Mills continued.

The NABERS SPI is Australia’s first publicly available index showcasing the proven environmental performance of the top 43 building portfolios and funds across the country and Vicinity has been recognised as a top 10 organisation for multiple years, with the latest report noting a 4.4 star NABERS Energy rating, up from 3.9 stars in 2019.

“Vicinity is delivering on its sustainability strategy, utilising solar, water efficiency and waste reduction to deliver consistent year-on-year improvements, and take another step closer to our target commitment of Net Zero carbon emissions by 2030,” said Meredith Banks, Head of Sustainability.

“Underlining Vicinity’s accomplishments, in just five years, it has gone from achieving 3.4 stars NABERS Energy rating for just 56% of its portfolio to achieving 4.4 stars NABERS Energy rating for 91% of its portfolio.”

Chairman Trevor Gerber released an update at EOFY2020 which explains their sustainability strategy in a little more detail:

We are tracking well towards our Net Zero by 2030 carbon target, having reduced our energy intensity by 20% from our baseline*, and by continuing to progress our on-site solar program across our wholly-owned retail assets.

Fantastic to see such a gigantic company fully embracing renewable energy and committing to decreasing their carbon footprint. And if it turns out to be a savvy business decision (which it is!), that’s another feather in the caps of the team over at Vicinity. Hopefully we continue to see other major retailers follow suit.



Lumea – TransGrid to deliver 10 gigawatts of renewable power

NSW electricity transmission provider TransGrid will offer 10 gigawatts of renewable energy following a restructuring – the company split its commercial arm to a new offshoot company they’ve named Lumea.

Lumea and commercial solar in New South Wales

The NSW government recently announced a plan to attract $32b in private investment in the next 10 years – according to The Mercury, it’s focused on 12GW of renewable generation and 2GW of ‘long-duration storage’. This places Lumea in a great position to benefit from commercial solar and the projects it has on the go.

Lumea will start up with a portfolio of existing customer relationships from TransGrid, with involvement across 9,000MW of renewable energy projects currently operating or under construction, according to RenewEconomy.

The company will build, own and operate a 50MW battery at its Wallgrove substation in West Sydney. Lumea’s New England Transmission Infrastructure plan in NSW’s Hunter Valley will also result in 1400MW of renewables being added to the electricity grid.


The Transgrid website also has some information about the new spinoff:

First established in 2017 as a business division within TransGrid, Lumea has built an industry reputation as experts in designing, delivering and operating complex projects for customers. Combining proven expertise in infrastructure and telecommunication services and commercial and technical innovation, Lumea has a portfolio of over 10GW of renewable energy generation being brought into the market and is also a leading provider of telecommunications services with a focus on regional areas, data transmission and emergency broadcast services.  

“Our energy system is facing a critical point. The scale of renewable energy generation to date has been substantial but we know more is required and more solutions are necessary to effect the transition to a clean energy future,” Lumea chief executive Richard Lowe said.

“Lumea is at the forefront of the transition to that future. Renewable energy is the cheapest form of electricity in the market and by accelerating that transition we’re enabling the delivery of low-emission, affordable power in greater amounts than ever before.”

TransGrid, run by Paul Italiano, is owned by a consortium of Spark Infrastructure, core infrastructure fund Utilities Trust of Australia, private equity firm CDPQ from Canada, Tawreed Investments and pension income company Omers. The consortium paid $10.3bn to buy TransGrid in 2015.

Another brick in the wall for dirty electricity as the country marches onward to large scale commercial and industrial renewable energy projects. Better late than never!

Alpha Pure Black lead free solar panel for commercial use

Well known and respected solar energy company REC Group have announced its Alpha Pure Black panel series, an aesthetically pleasing, lead-free, and highly performing premium solar panel. It’s expected to launch around July – let’s take a look at what we can expect. According to REC, A 6.1 kW installation (~16 x 380 Wp REC Alpha panels) creates over 7,200 kWh of clean energy per year. This cuts CO2 emissions of a home by 4.7 tons per year, and the panels are completely lead-free.

The Alpha Pure Black solar panel by REC Group

The REC Group are headquartered in Norway and the REC Alpha Pure Black Series is being produced in their Singapore factory. According to Energy Magazine the factory is fully automated and will start production next month (June 2021).

The panels themselves are touted as employing a ‘gapless cell layout’ – take a look below to see how great they look. They’re using heterojunction (HJT) cell technology – which means higher power for greater savings with no LID (power loss).

REC Group’s Alpha Pure Black solar panel (source: REC Press)

From the horse’s mouth (I did remove a few of the superlatives), here are some reasons the Alpha Pure Black is a great choice for domestic or commercial solar:

  • Power density of 219 watts/m², panel power reaches 405Wp.
  • Lead-free* for less environmental impact.
  • Lead removed from all panel components, including cell connections, cross connectors and junction box soldering.
  • Seamless appearance, lead-free construction, and high power make it a compelling solar panel for rooftops.

There you go. If the environmental impact of solar panels (they generally last around 10 years and lead recycling is still in its nascent stages) is of concern to you, these are a great environmentally friendly solar panel you can install at home or at the office, factory or warehouse. Put them somewhere people can see them though, it’s a very nice looking panel.

REC Group solar panel warranty

They don’t miss you for the REC Alpha but the warranty REC have come up with is one of the best in the business.

In 2019 the REC solar panel warranty doubled from 10 to 20 years, it’s now even longer:

  • 25 year product warranty*
  • 25 year performance warranty
  • 25 year labor warranty*
  • At least 92% of nameplate power in year 25

* when installed by a REC Certified Solar Professional installer; part of the REC ProTrust Warranty

REC Group’s solar panel range

The new Alpha pure black solar panels enter REC’s product range alongside some other high-end solar panels:

Check out the video below to learn more about the Alpha Series. Any questions? Ask away in the comments or shoot us an email, happy to help!

Commercial energy storage battery created in Germany.

Germany’s Fenecon have announced a commercial energy storage battery – the modular battery has a storage capacity ranging from 8 kWh to 22 kWh. According to Fenecon, the battery will allow predictive, grid-friendly charging and discharging by using their FEMS energy management system.

Commercial energy storage battery overview

Commercial energy storage battery created in Germany (source: My German ain’t what it used to be but I think the

The Germans are quite excited about this new product and have released a press release (in German, which I’ve translated below):

„Ein Speicher für die Energiewende muss Photovoltaik-Anlage, Wallbox, Wärmepumpe und Stromtarife intelligent in ein zentrales Managementsystem einbinden – und den Eigenverbrauch optimieren“, beschreibt Ludwig Asen, Leiter Produktmanagement bei Fenecon, die Idee hinter der Speicherlösung. „Mit dem FEMS-Monitoring können Anwender einfach und über eine einzige Plattform alle Energieflüsse überwachen und regeln beziehungsweise steuern lassen.“


“A storage system for the energy transition must intelligently integrate photovoltaic systems, wall boxes, heat pumps and electricity tariffs into a central management system – and optimise self-consumption,” describes Ludwig Asen, Head of Product Management at Fenecon, talking about the idea behind the storage solution. “With FEMS monitoring, users can easily monitor and regulate or control all energy flows via a single platform.”

PV Magazine have a great article about the product, which you can read here.

Fenecon Commercial energy storage battery statistics and datasheet:

  • Size of 506mm x 365mm
  • Storage capacity for the modular system ranges from 8.8 kWh to 22 kWh.
  • High-voltage batteries, the battery management module, and the intelligent control box connect together to maximise your energy savings.
  • Total height of the cabinet at 171cm (this is the highest allowable design with the maximum of ten Fenecon battery modules) – should be easy to fit in small rooms.
  • Wall-mounting the 24kg inverter shouldn’t be an issue either.
  • Three towers can be connected in a modular fashion to increase the battery capacity all the way up to 66 kWh. 
  • Learn more about FEMS energy management system by viewing the video embedded below! You can see it playing nice with the BYD B-Box, a very well performing Chinese battery (which I assume Fenecon probably won’t recommend any more, but in any case it’s certainly a great piece of kit)

Commercial Solar System for Tasmanian Schools

Tasmania’s election over the weekend shaped up as a boon for commercial solar – with both Labor and Liberal promising support for all government schools in the state to benefit from solar power and a Renewable Energy Schools program.

Tassie’s Renewable Energy Schools program

According to SolarQuotes, there are 213 government schools in Tasmania – not sure how many of them will have solar systems, but it appears that whether Labor or Liberal end up winning the state election in Tasmania, we’ll be seeing a rapid uptake of commercial solar system installation for Tasmanian Schools.

Last week Tasmanian Labor leader Rebecca White announced that her government will create a $5 million Solar Schools Fund if they come into power (we should hear results on the election this week). The major difference between Labor and Liberal’s program is that under Labor, the money schools are able to save on their electricity bills will be kept by the school. Labor’s press release hasn’t mentioned the amount of schools who will get the solar systems,  but did mention that each beneficiary school could save around $22,000 a year by using the Renewable Energy Schools program.

Rebecca White has also discussed the ‘solar tax’ the AEMC proposed earlier this year – that “the controversial new ‘solar tax’ proposed by the Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) will further hit the value of feed-in tariffs with people set to be charged for exporting solar power to the grid.”

“Solar owners have been badly let down by the Liberals and have seen the value of their investment crumble after the feed-in tariffs were cut,” said White, who did fail to mention that Tasmania already have 100% renewable energy so it’d be quite the act of benevolence to keep the tariffs the same as they were. Regardless of the tired political point scoring, it looks like Tasmanian residents will certainly benefit substantially whomever ends up in power, and it’s safe to assume that battery storage will be a huge part of any further plans.

In other news, the Green party have offered $31m for rooftop solar installation subsidies.

If you’re interested in a complete list of the election promises from all sides please click here.

Commercial Solar System for Tasmanian Schools
Commercial Solar System for Tasmanian Schools (source: Tasmanian Labor Party)

Tasmanian Liberal Party Renewable Energy Promises:

A Majority Liberal Government will:

  • Continue to deliver our goal to become a renewable energy powerhouse by delivering a $735 million investment into Tasmania’s renewable energy and hydrogen initiatives.
  • Deliver up to 250 construction jobs and invest $700 million into the redevelopment of the Tarraleah power station, subject to the provision of up to $65 million in funding and an underwriting agreement from the Australian Government for this project.
  • Establish Bell Bay as one of the nation’s recognised Hydrogen Hubs, investing an additional $100 000 in the Tasmanian Hydrogen technology cluster initiative led by the Bell Bay Advanced Manufacturing Zone to support this exciting opportunity.
  • Commit, again, that a re-elected Majority Liberal government will not sell or privatise Hydro Tasmania, including Momentum Energy, Entura Consulting or the Tamar Valley Power Station.
  • Help reduce the cost of living and the cost of doing business by making it cheaper to become energy efficient, including:
    • Re-launching a $30M over 2 years Tasmanian Energy Efficiency Loans Scheme program
    • Boosting the No Interest Loan Scheme’s Energy Saver Loan and Subsidy Scheme with funding of $2 million
    • Accelerating the rollout of advanced meters by 2026, in line with national electricity laws, to empower energy consumers with the information to manage their energy costs.
    • Providing an additional $5 million* to lower headworks costs for new subdivisions on top of $10 million already committed.
    • A $10 million* Solar Power sports Club no interest loan scheme.
    • $5 million* to deliver a Renewable Energy Schools program.

Solar loans and rebates in Tasmania

Tasmanian Labor have also announced $20 million to fund solar loans of up to $15,000 for households and businesses so they can buy batteries or solar systems. The loans will run over a ten year period, and, according to Labor, the solar loans will run interest free for the first three years, then with “low” interest for the remaining seven. Since money is cheap right now it’s a fantastic time for such a program and we’re really excited to see how it’s going to pan out in practice.

Last week Redflow CEO Simon Hackett’s Tasmanian sheep farm has installed a 280kWh Redflow ZBM2 based rural microgrid in Tasmania.