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JUNE 2020. The roof of an old Adelaide shoe-factory is helping a group of locals with a sharing-economy mindset achieve collective benefits, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 42 tonnes each year.

Zoom in on a satellite image of the Adelaide CBD and you’ll see no shortage of rooftops. In theory, the city’s roofscape has enormous potential to accommodate a high concentration of solar panels. In practice though, many buildings span multiple titles. Depending on the building management arrangements solar energy decisions can include building owners, property managers and tenants, becoming more complicated than owner-occupied premises.

In a laneway tucked away behind Halifax Street, an enterprising business owner has implemented an innovative billing solution to effectively enable ‘sharing’ of solar power. The system is installed on a converted factory and they’re reaping the economic and environmental benefits of sharing resources and thinking collectively.

Triton Tunis-Mitchell, head tenant of one half of the former Slatters Factory building and owner of Power Living Yoga said the roof sits across two titles, and the single retail electricity meter services three tenancies (and one sub-tenancy) across two levels.

Keen to explore the potential of solar energy, Triton spoke to the other tenants and everyone agreed: Power Living could use the available roof-space and if the numbers stacked up, they were interested in a sharing model for use of the excess power.

Last year, Living Energy installed a 30kW SolarEdge optimised solar system to maximise the harvesting capacity of the rooftop. The solar energy used by the system replaces energy from the grid, saving 42 tonnes of CO2 a year.

Living Energy calculated the generation capacity based on modelling the array in situ and applying Bureau of Meteorology data aggregated over 25 years to accurately predict both annual and monthly energy outputs.

They applied the model to interval consumption data obtained from SA Power Networks recorded through to the site’s retail meter. This helped to determine potential overall electricity and cost savings for the site.

Solar Analytics monitoring platforms were installed for each of the three tenants, and for this customised solution, Living Energy and Solar Analytics provided a spreadsheet program to easily import monitoring units and establish each tenants’ portion due to the overall retail account on a bill by bill basis.

Now, electricity that Power Living doesn’t need is shared with other tenants and because data is being collected in real-time, the billing and sharing model can evolve over time to optimise the shared benefits.

With the system operating now for several months, Power Living Owner, Triton says, “Even though we don't own the building, as tenants it still made financial sense for us to invest in a substantial 30kW solar panel array, the return time for that investment was within a couple of years of operation.”

“. . . as tenants it still made financial sense for us to invest in a substantial 30kW solar panel array, the return time for that investment was within a couple of years.”

Triton Tunis-Mitchell

Owner, Power Living Yoga

“Plus as committed global citizens and leaders of an environmentally minded community, investing in solar directly makes a lot of sense."

Power Living is now planning to implement Living Energy’s latest version of their peer-to-peer energy product, and transition to an automated billing system. This will avoid the need for manual calculations to effectively offer peer to peer energy trading from Power Living's solar to other tenancies, as well as other businesses in SA

Adjacent to Power Living are several neighbours who are also taking advantage of the bill savings and environmental benefits of solar and batteries in a residential setting.

Previously, local neighbours had opened their home for ‘Sustainable House Day’, showcasing a newly built, three-story home packed with innovative features, on a small city block.

‘Adelaide house’ is a beautiful, architecturally designed home with passive design principles that made use of incentives from the City of Adelaide for solar power and battery storage, and rainwater harvesting.

Three other townhouse owners in the street say learning from the neighbours got them talking and opened the door to even more solar on the street.

This vibrant area of the city is shaping up to be a low carbon precinct, setting an example for others to follow.

Story reproduced from Invest Adelaide