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Back to News 9 November 2022

Tonsley Innovation District doubles its green energy creation

Almost six thousand new solar panels will be switched on at Tonsley Innovation District next week, doubling the site’s green energy output.

Sixty-four thousand kilograms of panels were helicoptered onto the roofline of Renewal SA’s Line Zero building and TAFA SA’s campus back in May as part of an expansion of the Tonsley District Energy Scheme.

The scheme is owned and operated by specialist renewable energy company CleanPeak Energy.

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

Combined, the two sets of panels totalling 13,000 will generate up to 80% of the district’s energy demand, increasing Tonsley’s solar capacity to 5 Megawatts – the equivalent of powering around 300 homes a year.

CleanPeak Energy Chief Executive Philip Graham said he was delighted to announce the commissioning of Stage 2 of the Tonsley rooftop solar system.

“The 5 MW solar project located on the MAB rooftop is one of the largest systems in the country,” Mr Graham said.

Minister Nick Champion (right) and CleanPeak Energy Chief Executive Philip Graham (left)

“Stage 2 of the project was completed over nine months including the design, construction and delivery of the system.

“Now that it is operational, it will provide around 80% of the precinct’s overall energy needs annually.”

He said the Tonsley project underpinned CleanPeak’s growing investment in South Australia, which includes an upcoming battery fleet servicing multiple commercial sites across the state.

"Our strategy is to couple the Tonsley system with a 3.3-Megawatt battery - currently being developed for the site - which will allow storage of excess energy generation. This will ensure the site is on track to reduce its carbon footprint and moves us closer to realising our ambition to power the site from 100% renewable sources."

CleanPeak Energy Chief Executive Philip Graham

“It’s terrific to partner with Renewal SA to deliver the 5-Megawatt solar system as well as an innovative behind-the-meter battery that will ensure the world class Tonsley Innovation District is powered by clean energy.”

The battery will be delivered over three stages and at full capacity will reach 10 Megawatts.

Minister for Housing and Urban Development Nick Champion said the switching on of the panels was another quality example of Tonsley’s undisputable commitment to sustainability and commended CleanPeak on the success of the installations – a complex operations which involved dozens of local tradespeople.

“We know renewables are the future, and it’s great to see Tonsley Innovation District and CleanPeak Energy pushing to not only create cleaner sources of energy but also providing storage capabilities for the future,” Minister Champion said.

Photo credit: CleanPeak Energy

“South Australia is making good progress towards its greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, which is to reduce the state’s emissions by more than 50% below 2005 levels by 2030, and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.”

Tonsley tenant ZEISS– a multi-billion-dollar optics and optoelectronics technology enterprise globally – has long taken its green credentials seriously, setting itself an ambitious goal of being climate-neutral in all its operations by 2025.

ZEISS Head of Global Customer Enablement Karen Roberts said “as a foundation-owned company acting responsibly is a matter of course for ZEISS, and sustainability is a core part of our business. To support our ambitious goals, ZEISS sites worldwide are now almost entirely powered by green energy. The supply of reliable, renewable energy from CleanPeak Energy for our Tonsley operation is therefore an important part of further advancing our sustainability goals.”

At the completion of the solar system and battery projects, CleanPeak will have invested over $20 Million at Tonsley.


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