Solar Car Park: A Solution For Fulfilling Corporate Responsibility For Sustainability In Australia

Posted by: Planet Ark Power
Category: Energy

Across the US, large corporations are installing solar car parks as part of a global move to reduce their climate and environmental footprint and accept their corporate responsibility for sustainability.

Chip-making giant Intel has installed enough solar panels to cover 52 American football fields (or 47 soccer fields). A recent online article from PennEnergy outlines that the company’s 280,000 square-metres of solar arrays, installed across nine countries, generates 33 million kilowatt hours of green power. That’s enough to power 3,700 American homes.

The article states that Intel uses this energy to help heat and cool its buildings, along with assisting with its chip manufacturing. The buildings themselves are too small to house the solar arrays, so Intel implemented the innovative solution of building them to shade staff car parks.

Intel now receives 100% of its energy from green power sources. A large portion of that is from solar. Many other companies across the US, Europe and Asia are following suit.

Solar Car Parks and Large Scale Solar in Australia

In Australia businesses have some major limitations to overcome in order to fulfill their corporate responsibility for sustainability with solar car parks or other large-scale solar systems. These limitations include:

  1. Australia’s electricity grid was designed as a one-way network over 120 years ago. Sending power in the reverse direction creates a plethora of blockages and issues.
  2. Because of these technological limitations, only 15% of the energy used in a suburb can be generated by local rooftop solar.

The percentage mentioned in the second point is an average. As a restriction put in place by local grid operators, it varies considerably from state to state and suburb to suburb. These restrictions exist partly to regulate the export of energy from solar power in a way that can be useful to others on the network without causing blockages or issues.

Because of this, some suburbs are even limited by the grid operator with what is called a Zero Export policy.

This means no matter how large a solar power system is, the business that operates it is prevented from exporting energy over a certain amount. This significantly reduces their positive return on investment.

With the use of technology developed by Planet Ark Power, however, the exported power from a large commercial system can be readily accessible by others on the network. This technology allows:

  1. 100% of the energy in a suburb to come from local rooftop solar
  2. The two-way flow of electricity to be enabled at no cost to the taxpayer or the grid stakeholders
  3. The pay-back period on a solar power system can be greatly improved (less than a decade). Often, it is also a cash flow positive investment.

Creating solar car parks like the massive ones created by Intel is now achievable in Australia thanks to Planet Ark Power’s innovation. The next step is to work with grid operators to unlock their Zero Export policies so commercial operators can take full control of their sustainability responsibility.