Helping the City of Melbourne become carbon neutral

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The City of Melbourne is one step closer to achieving its target of being carbon neutral with the installation of a 200 kWp Solar PV system on the North Melbourne Recreation Centre (home to the North Melbourne Football Club). This site will offset over 320 tonnes of carbon per annum and could save over $30,000 in annual electricity builds.

Located in Arden Street, the Recreation Centre presented interesting challenges for both design and installation. After assessing the site and coming up with a custom designed solution, EnviroGroup won the project out of 20 applicants in a tender process to secure and deliver the project.

Installing Solar PV on large commercial sites such as the North Melbourne Recreation Centre allows council to address two key areas – energy expenditure and carbon emissions – with one solution.

The recreation centre has some key advantages in installing solar PV:

  • It is a big power user with a gymnasium, pool and being home to the North Melbourne Football Club.
  • It has a large roof area which can fit the required number of panels for the 200 kWp Solar PV system

The site did present some challenges which EnviroGroup addressed in the project planning phase. The multi-storey commercial building has heavy foot traffic and we had limited time to access certain areas (in some areas we were only able to work between the hours of 6.30am to 8.30am).

While there was enough space for placement of panels, some nearby trees created some shading issues and the building itself had limited space for the installation of inverters. The solution came in the form of Enphase microinverters. These small inverters attach directly to the back of each panel and convert the DC electricity of the panels to AC electricity  on the roof.  

The greatest advantage of the microinverters is to minimise any impact of shading on the system by way of ‘modular redundancy’.  If one panel is affected by shade, soiling or even damage (from a stray cricket ball) the impact is isolated to that panel alone.  On a regular system (which use ‘string’ inverters) such impacts would affect the entire system.  

Microinverters also allowed for a significantly easier cabling solution and provide impressive monitoring capabilities. They can provide performance data from each individual panel and display it for the customer in real time via a custom internet portal.

Working with the City of Melbourne we created an installation and traffic management plan that would create minimum disturbance to patrons, while also allowing the job to be completed quickly.

In the end, 800 x Yingli 250Wp panels and 800 x Enphase micro inverters were installed ahead of schedule in a total of 18 days.

The array was split over the two separate roofs and has a peak output of 200kWp. Each year the site will generate over 270 Megawatt-hours (MWh) and could lead to an annual saving of approximately $30,000 on the annual electricity bulls of the site. The system will also offset approximately 320 tonnes of carbon emissions per annum.

“City of Melbourne was very impressed with EnviroGroup’s control of the process.  They surpassed our expectations in maintaining timelines despite site limitations imposed on them by the occupants after construction had started.

Their technical advice and expertise was obvious to the project group with whom they worked in constructive partnership, and the finished product showed an attention to detail we had not seen before”.

– Mark Krautz, Executive Officer; Real Estate and Property Services at Melbourne City Council

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