Vicinity Centres Announces Net Zero Carbon Target

Solar energy - Vicinity Centres

Vicinity Centres has announced a net zero carbon target for its 34 shopping centres across Australia that will be achieved through solar power and energy efficiency.

The company says its 2030 net zero carbon aspirations will become the centrepiece of its commitment to long-term sustainability.

 “As Australia’s second largest retail property company, we recognise the role Vicinity plays in transitioning to a low-carbon economy, and that’s why our sustainability strategy is focused on delivering outcomes that are good for our business, the community and the environment,” said CEO and Managing Director Grant Kelley.

Vicinity Centers announced the goal as its $73 million solar energy investment program announced last year approaches completion. The initiative involved solar panel installations across 22 shopping centres in six states with a collective capacity of 31.8MW. 12 of these systems are already operating, generating more than 5 gigawatt-hours of electricity since being switched on. Once all systems are fully operational, Vicinity estimates the installations will collectively generate 48.5 gigawatt-hours annually.

The program has occurred in two phases. In May 2018, the company announced $28 million would be invested in PV installations at five of its shopping centres across South Australia and Western Australia. Then in September, an additional ~$50 million was earmarked for solar energy and other technologies to be implemented across a further 17 shopping centres throughout Australia.

At that point, Vicinity projected its investment would generate an internal rate of return (IRR) of approximately 12%, while reducing mains grid electricity consumption by up to 40%.

Energy efficiency has also been important in emissions and electricity cost reductions for the company. Chief Strategy Officer Justin Mills said as a result of a portfolio-wide review of its energy consumption and subsequent improvements in lighting, air-conditioning and building performance optimisation, carbon emissions had been reduced by 14 per cent since 2016.

Solar Glass Trial Update

As well as commercial solar on shopping centre rooftops, Vicinity is also trialing solar glass at Warwick Grove Shopping Centre in Western Australia. The centre’s northern entrance door atrium was replaced with a similar design using 18 ClearVue PV panels. The ClearVue PV glass charges a battery to provide power for applications including lighting in the atrium and outside signage.

Solar glass trial - ClearVue PV

According to May update from ClearVue PV, work on the solar glass project was completed by that month and was “operating as expected for this time of year”. Live monitoring reported on ClearVue’s web site indicates the installation has generated 76.67 kilowatt-hours of electricity so far – the monthly average at this point is 32.91 kilowatt-hours.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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