Posted: 19 December 2019

Work on one of Australia’s largest rooftop solar arrays reached an important milestone this week, with about half of the project now generating renewable energy for Tonsley Innovation District, thanks to an innovative delivery program developed by the two companies involved in the project.

A total of 7400 solar panels will be installed across the five-hectare roof of the Main Assembly Building (MAB) to deliver a total installed capacity of 2.34 megawatts.

As of this week, almost 4000 solar panels have been laid by ZEN Energy on behalf of Enwave Australia.

The installation is part of the Tonsley District Energy Scheme to deliver clean, competitively priced energy to Tonsley tenants and residents via smart renewable technology. Cleantech and renewable energy is one of four industry focus sectors at Tonsley and the district is becoming a national hub for the development of related innovative technology. In addition to working on the District Energy Scheme, ZEN Energy and Enwave are both Tonsley tenants.

The scheme was launched in September, so this week’s milestone marks a fast turnaround from launch to energy generation for the scheme. Work on the full solar energy system is expected to be completed early in the new year.

Extracting solar energy from the panels as soon as possible has been an important goal of the installation. To achieve this, ZEN Energy and Enwave Australia worked together to devise a delivery program that would allow about half of the installation to be commissioned and switched on ahead of time, rather than waiting for the entire installation to be completed as is the practice for more standard delivery models.

ZEN Energy Technical Manager Daniel Hope explained that one of the goals was that that at least 30 per cent of all energy consumed at Tonsley would be generated from solar panels mounted on the MAB roof.

“From day one of the project we were aware and really mindful of this target and made sure that we did all we could to design our delivery method around it,” he said.

“Thanks to the excellent work of our installers, consistent and open dialogue with Enwave Australia, and great engagement with SA Power Networks and Renewal SA, we are really pleased to now be at a stage where the first 3800 panels have already been installed and are now already generating clean renewable energy for the site.”

Enwave Australia Project Director Ray Egan said Enwave Australia was pleased to achieve this important milestone for the project.

“It is a great achievement by all parties involved to achieve this milestone,” he said.

“By working together as a community, Enwave Tonsley is able to capture value for tenants through economies of scale, efficiency of operations and implementation of innovative technologies and utility services solutions.

In the future the network may incorporate battery storage and potential use of hydrogen as well as innovations provided by tenants at Tonsley and beyond.”