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Back to News 12 May 2022

Helicopter transports 2,000 solar panels onto roof

Helicopter transports 2,000 solar panels onto roof

Eighty pallets of solar panels, weighing up to 800kg each, were airlifted onto the roofline of Renewal SA’s Line Zero building and TAFA SA’s campus at Tonsley Innovation District on Saturday, 7 May, as part of an expansion of the District Energy Scheme.

The 2,000 panels were heli-lifted onto the buildings from 6.30am, in what was a major logistical exercise over 10-hours, involving 160 separate pick-up and set-down runs.

The Stage 2 installation – which covers an area around the size of 2.5 football fields – doubles the capacity of the existing solar asset laid on the roof of Tonsley’s Main Assembly Building (MAB) in 2020, which at the time was one of Australia’s largest rooftop-mounted solar arrays.

Renewal SA General Manager, Project Delivery and Property, Todd Perry said once operational, the new panels will increase the district’s solar capacity to 5 Megawatts – the equivalent of powering 340-plus homes at Tonsley Village a day.

“Tonsley has demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainable and innovative outcomes since its inception,” Mr Perry said.

“The District Energy Scheme is a great example of that commitment because it gives businesses within the district surety and access to reliable, renewable energy at a cheaper rate without having to rely on supply from the national electricity grid.”

"“Combined with the existing solar panels atop the MAB, the new panels will collectively generate up to 80% of Tonsley’s energy demand.” "

Todd Perry, General Manager of Project Delivery and Property at Renewal SA

At project completion there will be 13,000 panels, 34 inverters and over 15,000 metres of electrical cables installed as part of the District Energy Scheme.

The latest series of panels were laid out sequentially on a large concrete apron to the south of the TAFE SA building earlier in the week in preparation for their installation by CleanPeak Energy, which owns and operates the Tonsley District Energy Scheme.

Eighty pallets of solar panels were airlifted onto the roofline of Renewal SA’s Line Zero building and TAFA SA’s campus. Photo Credit: CleanPeak Energy.

Aerotech Helicopters, which has extensive experience in this type of flying and holds Civil Aviation Safety Authority approval to conduct this type of operation, conducted the drops.

Its crew landed in a designated area a safe distance from the load lifting zone between transfers, while a designated emergency landing area was identified. There was also be a petrol tanker onsite to assist with refuelling every hour.

The rooves of both the Line Zero and TAFE SA buildings have been certified to hold the weight of the pallets. Now elevated to roof level, the panels will be secured with 10,000 fixings over an installation period of around nine weeks.

One of 160 separate pick-up and set-down runs completed by Aerotech Helicopters on the day. Photo Credit: CleanPeak Energy.

CleanPeak Energy CEO Phillip Graham said the company has committed further funding to develop a 10-Megawatt battery that will capture excess solar energy and store it in a custom facility at Tonsley for use in precinct buildings outside the solar window.

"“Once finished, the integrated solar and battery system will allow the world class Tonsley Innovation District to be supplied by 100% renewable energy.”"

Phillip Graham, CEO of CleanPeak Energy


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