Are these solar panels the setting of the sun for coal mines?
Solar energy systems on top of shopping centres, car park shade covers, hospitals, airports and other commercial buildings are the beginning of the end for large scale coal power stations, one alternative energy developer will explain on Friday.
Shakra Energy managing director Sam Khalil will on Friday outline how the solar energy system his company has installed as a “shade cover” over car parking at Buranda is now doubling as a solar energy generator. He says the system cut energy costs for the owner by between 30 to 40 per cent.
Mr Khalil believes companies and big energy users – like hospitals and huge retailers – are beginning to wake up the potential solar energy from their rooftops, completely separate to solar energy from homes.
It generates 147MW and save 122 tonnes of CO2 emissions from the environment each year.
“If we can save them 30 to 40 per cent on electricity bills that are $10 million, $20 million, $30 million a year, why wouldn’t you do it?” Mr Khalil argues.
“We are right at the forefront of where the future of energy production has to be in Australia,” he said.
“Right at the forefront of the job creation for making business more efficient so they can employ more people.”
While big business recognises future savings, the big energy producers recognise future problems, he said.
Shakra Energy now has had to place $15,000 “grid protection relays” in place to prevent solar energy being “exported” to other big users because of strict energy controls.
“What those grid protection relays do is stop any export on the line, because the Energex, the AGLs and big power networks in the world, they recognise that if commercial solar gets momentum, they are going to have a surplus of electricity on their lines,” he said.
“So can you imagine three or four 100 kilowatt systems sprawled over every manufacturer, abattoir and they are exporting that electricity.
“It is really going to disrupt the lines. They (governments and energy authorities) are going to have to do something about this, because it is mind-boggling.”
Shakra Energy has placed solar energy panels on top of shade cloth covers that shade cars on top of PA Central on Ipswich Road at Buranda, directly opposite the Princess Alexandra Hospital.
It generates 100 kilowatts of energy, enough to power the shops and business in the Ipswich Road building, plus run the car park operations.
One hundred kilowatts – depending on what is in the house or the business and the size of the house of the business – could power between five and 30 homes or premises.
The solar energy structure at PA Central on Ipswich Road costs around $150,000. If the business needs to build the shade cloth structures suitable for the solar power in addition, that’s a further $100,000.
“Each system is different, but quintessentially the system – at PA Central – the solar system would probably cost around $150,000,” Mr Khalil said, with federal government discounts.
But Mr Khalil said “nine out of 10 shopping centres” already have the car park shade structures that hold the solar systems.
Mr Khalil says their Buranda plant was the first commercial solar production facility in Queensland, outside a similar scheme on the rooftop at one building of the University of Queensland.
He said his company has recently been invited to lodge tenders for similar schemes at large commercial properties.
“Let’s just say hospitals, airports, major shopping centres,” he said.
Oxley Federal MP Bernie Ripoll and Greens Senator Larissa Waters will be at the launch on Friday.
“The solar project has taken under-utilised carpark space and transformed it into clean energy as well as provided protection for shoppers and their vehicles,” Mr Ripoll said.
“It makes sense for shopping centres to use all of that sunlight right outside their door, while providing shade for their customers’ cars.”
Greens Senator Larissa Waters praised the concept.
“This is just the kind of innovation that our Sunshine State needs to shine as a leader in the clean energy future,” Senator Waters said.
“The Palaszczuk Government needs to hurry up and implement the 50 per cent renewable energy target it promised in the election, instead of pushing ahead with coal exports through the Great Barrier Reef,” she said.