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Solar Bay inks deal to install solar on nine major shopping centres

This article originally appeared in One Step Off The Grid

Commercial renewables installer and financier Solar Bay has inked a deal with shopping centre landlord Real Asset Management to lease the rooftops of nine of its suburban malls in New South Wales and Queensland, and fit them out with solar PV.

The deal, which was negotiated for Solar Bay by Colliers International, will see an undisclosed amount of solar installed on Keppel Bay Plaza, Ballina Central, Yeronga Village, Coles Tanilba Bay, Mowbray Marketplace, Springfield Fair, The Hub Westlake, Miami Day Hospital, North Lakes and Coomera Square.

Solar Bay says the solar systems will provide – on average – more than 40 per cent of each shopping centre’s total power consumption and will be designed to add further clean energy technologies, like electric vehicle charging stations.

For RAM – which runs a $300 million unlisted retail fund, and owns 13 shopping centres, a medical centre and office building – the deal will generate a new income stream equivalent to adding an additional speciality tenant in each mall, the company told the AFR.

And for its tenants – particularly those retail outlets not big enough to negotiate long-term energy deals – it will mean cheaper power, and more incentive to sign long-term leases.

Solar Bay’s COO Cameron Quin said the commercial PV specialist had seen a 500 per cent increase in inquiries for solar PPAs compared to the same time last year.

“Most major energy consumers are currently researching in detail on-site and off-site PPAs,” Quin told One Step Off The Grid on Tuesday.

“This is where on-site PPAs will shine against front of the meter (PPAs), as the point of consumption is at (the point of) generation, which means there’s less risk for all parties involved,” he said.

Solar Bay managing director James Doyle said the team at Colliers had been doing “an incredible job” for their clients, in facilitating these corporate solar contracts.

Commercial property developers and asset managers have become big players in the booming Australian commercial solar market over the past several years, as property portfolios are greened and as landlords look to lock in retailers with deals for cheaper electricity.

As we reported here, ASX-listed retail asset manager Vicinity Centres is investing around $75 million in solar and other energy “technologies” including battery storage, in a bid to cut grid power usage of its shopping centres by 40 per cent.

Vicinity, in May 2018, announced the roll-out of more than 11MW of commercial solar in a $28 million project that would incorporate five shopping centres across Western Australia and South Australia.

Stage two, announced in September, extends the solar rollout to three more states – Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland – and will generate more than 31,000MWh of solar energy a year, according to Vicinity.