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Case Study: Install solar for common areas

Yarra's Edge Apartment, Docklands, Melbourne

Yarra's Edge Apartment

"This huge 47.5kW solar system is the largest ever retrofitted to a Melbourne apartment block, with 190 solar panels converting sunlight into electricity."

You can do this project!

The owners’ corporation at Yarra’s Edge Towers in Lorimer Street Docklands is a leading example of what’s possible. They recently installed a 47.5kW solar system, the largest ever to be retrospectively fitted to an apartment building in Melbourne.

“As the solar panels have been going up, people have been feeling a lot better about the building” said Dean Mollison, Resident Manager at Yarra Edge Towers.

Just on the cusp of the CBD, Yarra’s Edge Towers are nestled alongside the Yarra River ensuring excellent access to sunlight year round. Realising the opportunity, the owners’ corporation began discussing the ideas of going solar and then ramped up their efforts when they heard the City of Melbourne was offering $3,000 rebates at the time to owners corporations who installed solar.

The solar project came on the back of a successful water harvesting initiative. Having proven the value of continual building improvement, it was easier to get the owners corporation on board with the idea of going solar. Resident manager Dean Mollison and apartment owner Peter Taylor, a member of the executive committee, led the solar project.

Planning the project

The process of going solar happened in phases. The executive committee had been discussing the idea of installing solar for some years. The offer of support through City of Melbourne and the Smart Blocks program saw the committee move from ideas to action.

The executive committee used the information on the Smart Blocks website to better understand the process of going solar in a strata building. Following, Peter and Dean accessed additional face-to-face support through City of Melbourne. They received a free solar feasibility assessment from project partners Positive Charge. The report recommended a system size, provided cost estimates, payback periods and energy savings – all the basic information required to help the executive committee assess the value the solar system would add to the building.

Feeling confident about the viability of the project, 3 quotes were sought and the committee selected Energy Matters to do the installation as they felt confident they would deliver the best outcome for the building.

Results and benefits

Peter Taylor said that while the system cost around $67,000, one of benefits of living in an apartment building is that costs are shared. Given there are 290 owners in the building, the cost per apartment was an affordable $230.

“The final price was very affordable when we acted together and it’s an investment in the future value of the whole block. A lot of people think you can’t install solar in a high rise, but we’ve proved that you can and the savings are real,” Mr Taylor said.

Councillor Arron Wood, Chair of the City of Melbourne’s Environment Portfolio said the initiative benefits the environment and the owner’s corporation.

“This huge 47.5kW solar system is the largest ever retrofitted to a Melbourne apartment block, with 190 solar panels converting sunlight into electricity. It’s not just the environment that is the winner here, it’s the 290 owners who will pay less to power the lighting and ventilation systems in their common areas,” said Cr Wood.

In addition to the financial benefits, the solar system will save 92.568 tonnes of carbon emissions each year - enough carbon to fill 21 Olympic swimming pools.

View a short video clip about the Yarra’s Edge solar system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0P2BJ1KVm30