Our team undertook a solar feasibility study for Primewest Broome Boulevard Shopping Centre in Western Australia. A year later, we were commissioned to build a 1.3MW solar carport project for the mentioned shopping centre, poised to be the biggest solar undercover carport in regional Australia to date.
Power generated from the 3,600 solar panels on the 8,000 m2 carport shade structure will feed back a limited amount into the power grid and is expected to supply around 45% of the shopping centre’s electricity needs, equivalent to 1,540 tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum.
The planning phase took 24 months and involved several technical challenges due to the sheer size of the system, including a solar smoothing mechanism to protect the network from cloud cover.
The initial project idea was developed in 2017 with a 200KW solar array proposed to the owner. This was subsequently increased to 1.3MW when discussions and financial modelling was carried out and an alternative design option was modelled (Ground-Mount Solar Array), as opposed to the previous proposal of installing on the existing roof structure of the shopping centre. Various site-specific requirements were identified prior the structural design of the carpark canopy, which will provide shade for 42 per cent of the shopping centre’s 770 parking bays. Challenges included:
- Condition of the shopping centre roof
- Cyclone resistance/rating
- Location of supportive poles aligned with the existing bays’ layout
- Access for heavy trucks delivering goods to the major retailers
- Horizontal drilling for underground conduits with no access to historical site plans.
- Access and time to complete the works during inclement conditions.
- Satisfying the Civil Aviation Safety Authority that the reflection from the panels would not affect safety/visibility at the airport next door
- Size and scale of the solar/battery system to satisfy Horizon Power network requirements
- Project funding.
The owner was satisfied that the construction did not disrupt the operations of the shopping centre.
The project was successfully completed in 2021, within a few months from completion, these have been the results:
- Annual Consumption Pre Solar: 4,858,761 kWh
- Solar Generation: 2,397,480 kWh
- Solar Offset: 2,397,480 kWh
- Solar Offset: 49%
- Solar Excess Power: 0%
- Post Solar Consumption 2,461,281 kWh
- ROI: 5.9 Years (estimated)
- 25 Year IRR: 17.2%
Going forward, the system will have the added benefit of taking the pressure off the local grid and supporting the local provider, Horizon Power, by allowing them to tap into the system during outages.
Winner of the Sustainability category at the prestigious Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Awards 2021 Australia.