Transformation Areas

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A shopping mall powered by solar energy

PowerSmart Solar has developed a highly innovative Grid-tied Solar System to power a community mall in Whangarei.

Tarewa Mall’s 240kW installation of 926 solar panels in Whangarei is New Zealand’s largest commercial solar power system. The system powers the entire air-conditioning system at Tarawa’s 7550m2 community shopping complex, which houses 11 major retailers.

PowerSmart’s innovative engineered solutions were fundamental in the design of this ‘one of kind’ solar power system. A unique shipping container design houses all the inverters, monitoring and junction boxes. This design means the majority of the solar power system was fitted and manufactured at PowerSmart’s HQ workshop. It was then shipped into place at the Tarewa Mall site as a ‘plug and go’ solution. This has resulted in no penetrations, fixings or electrical works inside the buildings’ envelope at all.

Tarewa’s air-conditioning system uses 326,542 kWh of electricity per annum at a cost of $90,122. The 240kW system aims to offset 80-90% of the air-conditioners’ operating costs.

A big benefit to the owners of the mall is being able to protect themselves against electricity price increases that have been calculated at 50%+ since the mall’s opening in 2003. Stratos Energy, the client, is the first property management company with a portfolio of retail and office assets to invest in this solar power technology.

This system proves that large scale solar is possible and financially viable in New Zealand. 

PowerSmart Solar was a finalist Renewables Innovation category in the 2014 NZI National Sustainable Business Network Awards.