Solar Southbank

Southbank could potentially be exclusively powered by solar energy according to the Australian PV Institute (APVI).

Following the release of satellite analysis, APVI’s Solar Potential Tool (SunSPoT) estimates the probability of an individual sites electricity to be generated by solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.

The live system receives up-to-date data from various sources, detailing the environmental impact and potential financial savings of converting to solar.

Developed as a part of the APVI’s solar mapping research project and funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the tool aims to provide the public with a level of understanding surrounding solar energy before choosing to invest.

“The purpose of the tool is to really give people who are not deeply technical or don’t have a lot of experience with solar, the opportunity to play with it. It also helps them to understand the language around solar,” said APVI chair Dr Renate Egan.

She also believes that an area like Southbank could predominantly be fuelled by solar energy due to its number of low-rise buildings.

For this to be achieved Dr Egan advises residents to “take leadership within their own community and to encourage owners’ corporations (OC) to review their building’s capacity.

“The residents of buildings can work with their OC to get solar on their roof. There are lots of case studies now where people have done that successfully.”

Dr Egan is confident of the tool’s reliability, having already conducted “comparisons with actual sites with very recent quotes for some fairly large council buildings” and that “the numbers [were] pretty good”.

The implementation of the technology follows a push from the City of Melbourne to encourage residents, businesses and building developers to invest in renewable energy.

According to its Annual Plan and Budget: 2017 - 2018, one of the city’s major initiatives is to “promote a suite of options to encourage residents and businesses to achieve energy savings and access renewable energy” whilst also promoting awareness around off-site renewable energy-purchasing models.

The APVI report estimates that savings of up to $120 million per year could be realised throughout the City of Melbourne via the installation of PV.

Looking at Southbank, the report evaluated Crown Casino and its potential solar capacity. Taking up an area of 52,630 sqm, 25 per cent of the building’s roof area (38,745 sqm) is suitable for PV arrays. This percentage is below average due to its irregular structure, however, the site could still save up to 1668 kilotonnes of carbon emissions each year and supply the equivalent of 329 households.

Information sourced for SunSPoT from the City of Melbourne’s LiDAR data, takes into account solar radiation, weather at the site, PV system area, tilt, orientation, and shading from nearby buildings and vegetation. However, despite its accuracy, APVI still advises residents get an on-site assessment performed by a certified professional to determine building suitability.

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