There is a lot of talk about solar for the businesses and homes of Australia, but what about apartments? With an ever-increasing number of apartments going up in our cities, it’s time for large occupancy buildings to consider the benefits of solar power. We look at one complex doing just that.
Located in Hornsby, New South Wales, Avanti Apartments recently unveiled a 51kWp solar system installed by EnergyAustralia. The Hon. Matt Kean MP, NSW Minister for Innovation and Member for Hornsby, was there to do the honours having previously lived in the building for five years.
The two-building complex, which houses over 500 residents across 13 floors, installed 191 solar panels to generate enough clean energy to cover approximately 12% of the annual electricity consumption of the building’s common areas.
What benefits will Avanti see?
With the installation, Avanti should see their electricity costs come down by around $8,000 every year. And more importantly, the state-of-the-art system has the capacity to offset around 1,000 tonnes of carbon emissions, significantly reducing the building’s environmental impact and improving the building’s green rating credentials.
EnergyAustralia’s Head of Partnerships, Usman Pervaiz, was at the unveiling celebration and spoke about how Australians are embracing technology, like solar, as we become increasingly aware of the importance of adopting cleaner energy.
“Batteries, solar and energy-efficient technology are presenting customers with the option to become less reliant on the grid. They’re getting to choose who they get their energy from, when, and how they use that energy. That’s one of the exciting trends we’re seeing in the energy sector,” says Usman.
Getting the right system
High-rise buildings, like Avanti, have special considerations when it comes to selecting the right solar system. The building’s integrity (how the building holds together under weight without breaking) and wind loading (how the building responds to wind) both need to be considered.
In response to this, EnergyAustralia used what the professionals call a ballast mounted system which supports solar on tall structures without damaging the waterproof membrane on the flat roof. They also tailored the engineering to ensure Avanti could maximise potential output from the system.
When a standard framing couldn’t be used to keep the solar panels in place, the team used engineered, weighted blocks throughout the installation to secure it to the roof and prevent wind lift or other movement.
Using framing systems which don’t require a lot of roof penetrations are ideal for apartments and high-rise buildings with solid roofs because they mean less changes to the existing structure and can be moved around to meet the future needs of the building.
After the structural design is considered, it’s about getting the right sized system. EnergyAustralia used data that showed the building’s energy use over the last 12 months and combined this with discussions with the owners to understand any future requirements of the complex. The result is a system that is not too big, or too small and is made to fit long-term. These solar systems are smart, just like the customers having them installed.
Interested in more about solar? See the story of Hickory Group, a construction company who integrate environmental planning into their projects and have now invested in solar for themselves.