ISPT ramps up solar roll-out – Commercial Real Estate News

Super fund manager ISPT has stepped up its solar installation program, with an expansion that will allow the landlord to sell down power to tenants in its shopping centre.

With initial success across a smaller group of properties – both malls and commercial buildings – ISPT has moved into a second phase, with a $12.8 million investment across 22 properties.

The expansion phase has targeted malls in particular, allowing ISPT to sell power to retailers, adding around 5300 megawatts to the 1300MW in the first stage.

“We are generating rooftop power and we’re selling it to our retailers through an embedded network,” Alicia Maynard, ISPT’s general manager, told The Australian Financial Review.

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“We are able to offer them low-carbon reliable energy avoiding the grid power.

“Now that we are able to sell that power to our retailers it has significantly enhanced our return on investment.

“If we were just focused on powering our own base building usage, then we could only install enough solar power to cover that.

“That relationship between us and our tenants is helping get the scale to what it is now.”

The first stage of the program resulted in 20,000 square metres of solar panels installed across 13 properties. It exceeded benchmark targets on electricity production by 12 per cent.

In the second stage 13,000 solar panels will be laid across 75,000 square metres of roof space above 12 retail properties in NSW, Victoria and the ACT. (The installations are being expanded across three of the properties from the first stage.)

The second stage alone is delivering cost savings of $1.5 million. The project will pay for itself within five years and is expected to deliver as much as $30 million in savings over its life.

For ISPT’s corporate footprint the solar power is cutting costs by 8.5 per cent, with around 9.5 per cent reduction in power usage.

Micro-inverters help reduce the unreliability of power generation caused by cloudy days. In further stages, ISPT hopes to extend the roll-out to as many as 50 properties and introduce battery storage within one to two years as it becomes economically feasible.

“We need to have that battery storage to scale up the size of the system,” Ms Maynard said.

An increasing number of commercial property landlords are introducing solar arrays to defray power costs.

While shopping centres and large industrial assets are especially amenable with their large roof spaces, the boom is spreading to a wide variety of properties from aged care facilities to apple-packers and abattoirs.

Stockland has committed to installing 39,000 solar panels across 10 shopping centre rooftops for $23.5 million, for example.

Coca-Cola Amatil decided to install solar across three of its bottling plants around the country in 2018. It expected to save $1.3 million in energy costs, with the 3.5MW of solar providing 14 per cent of energy needs.

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