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!