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Docklands’ solar future

03 May 2018

By Emma Doherty

The future of Docklands could be solar according to the Australian PV Institute (APVI).

Following the release of satellite technology, APVI’s Solar Potential Tool (SunSPoT) estimates the probability of a site’s electricity to be generated by solar photovoltaic (PV) cells.

The live system receives up-to-date data from various sources, detailing the environmental impact and potential financial savings of converting to solar.

The implementation of the tool follows a push from the City of Melbourne to encourage residents, businesses and developers to invest in renewable energy.

The APVI report estimates that in Docklands, solar PV panels could produce up to 35.5MW annually and supply 42.1GWh of power to residents.

“The purpose of the tool is to really give people who are not deeply technical or don’t have a lot of experience with solar the opportunity to play with it. It also helps them to understand the language around solar,” said Dr Renate Egan, chair of the APVI.

She also believes that an area like Docklands could be powered by solar energy due to its number of low-rise buildings, compared to that of the CBD.

For this to be achieved Dr Egan advises residents to “take leadership within their own community and to encourage owner’s corporations (OC) to review their building’s capacity.

“The residents of buildings can work with their body corporate to get solar on their roof. There are lots of case studies now where people have done that successfully,” Dr Egan said.

Dr Egan is confident of the tool’s reliability, having already conducted “comparisons with actual sites with very recent quotes for some fairly large council buildings” and that “the numbers [were] pretty good”.

Information sourced for SunSPoT from the City of Melbourne’s LiDAR data, takes into account solar radiation, weather at the site, PV system area, tilt, orientation and shading from nearby buildings and vegetation.

However, despite its accuracy, APVI still advises residents get an on-site assessment performed by a certified professional to determine a building’s suitability.

According to the City of Melbourne’s Annual Plan and Budget: 2017 - 2018, one of the city’s major initiatives is to “promote a suite of options to encourage residents and businesses to achieve energy savings and access renewable energy”, whilst also promoting awareness around off-site renewable energy purchasing models.

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