Centre goes solar
Next time you wheel your trolley through the new entry at the Ocean Shores shops, look up.
Rising majestically above you is a massive 70 square metre, 56 photovoltaic panel ‘solar DC array’ that, since its connection in April, has been busy producing more than 3359 kilowatt hours of electricity – enough to run lighting in the car park and common areas of the centre.
“We have reduced the centre’s CO2 emissions by more than 3540 kilograms to date, which is a great achievement,” said Ocean Village Shopping Centre manager Veronica O’Dwyer.
That’s an energy saving equivalent to taking a car off the road for 13,000km.
The photovoltaic solar ‘array’ is the work of Moruya-based company Solar Energy Options – the only ones willing to take on the challenge of constructing what is believed to be the largest solar panel structure of its kind at any shopping centre in NSW, according to Ms O’Dwyer.
“It was assembled in one steel block and had to be transported here and crane-lifted in one block into place,” she said.
Solar Energy Options believe it has never been done before in Australia.
Set to generate around 15,000 kilowatts of electricity per year, Ms O’Dwyer said the unique design of the massive solar roof also provided shade and weather protection for shoppers.
“We love the design of our solar roof because of its originality. It helps us significantly reduce emissions and save on energy bills and it doubles as a practical entry that is a feature for the shopping centre,” she said.
“We see it as our real contribution to helping the environment and we hope it’s something the Ocean Shores community can be proud of.”
Ocean Shores Community Association president Jan Mangleson congratulated shopping centre owner Ross Warburton for giving the community an example of sustainability in the shopping centre.
“I understand we’re one of the first to have this type of solar energy,” she said.
Ms O’Dwyer said the solar structure, which cost the centre in excess of $50,000, was expected to save around $10,000 a year in electricity costs.
And that figure could be doubled next year. Plans for a new building behind BiLo, to the north of the centre that will house Target Country, are receiving final checks and once the centre gets the green light, another solar DC array of similar size will be constructed at the new building’s entry.
Other improvements to the Ocean Village Shopping Centre include 12 new shade sails over the car park providing what Ms O’Dwyer says is the only shade sail parking off the highway between Tweed Heads and Ballina and a real drawcard for locals.
"We have elderly couples and families from Pottsville and Kingscliff and visitors from all over coming to shop here so they can park in the shade, enjoy our relaxed and comfortable atmosphere,” Ms O’Dwyer said.
“We’ve done a complete re-paint, renovated bathrooms, put in feature flooring and many other improvements to bring our shopping centre into the 21st century.
“We really, really are trying to do what we can for our shoppers and reduce our environmental footprint at the same time.”