Did you know Ripley Town Centre has approximately 1,800 individual solar panels on its roof and car park, generating around 75 per cent of the electricity needed to power the Centre and its retailers? This 480-kilowatt green energy system feeds directly into the Centre’s private community energy network.
In simple terms, a community energy network works by taking the combined energy usage of a multi-tenanted development (like a shopping centre) through a single point to purchase electricity from the wholesale market at wholesale rates. This means bypassing energy retailers who typically charge much higher rates.
When solar power or other renewable energy sources are added to the mix, the more self-sufficient the network becomes, resulting in significant cost savings. A private network, like Ripley Town Centre’s, means no energy generated within the Centre leaves the Centre, allowing retailers to reap all the benefits.
Ripley Town Centre’s private energy sub-station was installed in 2018 by energy partner, WINConnect, as part of Stage One of the masterplan, but as future stages of the development come to fruition, additional sub-stations will be added. This will allow future businesses and residents to tap into the network as well. Once complete, it is believed the Centre’s private community energy network will be one of the largest in Queensland.
WINConnect Managing Director and CEO Tom Patsakos believes Ripley Town Centre is the first ever township to commission this type of network.
“To my knowledge, there is yet to be an entire town on a community energy network, excluding small mining towns,” he said.
“While embedded energy networks have over time been designed to serve the purposes of the developer, our approach is to spread the value generated from the network equitably among key stakeholders, including the community.”
The benefits of a private community energy network are far reaching, including:
For Ripley Town Centre, this means investing the cost savings to maintain the community infrastructure as the masterplan continues to grow, including upgrades to infrastructure, landscaping and community spaces — supporting businesses, residents and visitors alike.
This clean energy initiative — which aims to produce as much private, clean energy as possible without the reliance on outside energy sources — provides a long-term, sustainable solution for Ripley Town Centre by using the network to give back to the community, while reducing costs and its overall carbon footprint at the same time.
“Our ultimate aim is to achieve a net-zero energy community where residents, retailers and commercial operators can sell excess energy their asset creates to other players within the community and capitalise on another income stream,” said Sekisui House Development Director, Taku Hashimoto.
“With less capital expenditure, a community energy network removes the barriers that have historically prevented developers from investing in renewables and allows us to share the benefits of locally produced energy.”
To find out more about Ripley Town Centre’s sustainability initiatives, click here.