IKEA Australia to turn its Adelaide store into urban solar power station

IKEA Australia to turn its Adelaide store into urban solar power station

    By Rachael Ridley  November 2nd, 2020

    With the support of the South Australian Government, IKEA Australia has announced it will turn its Adelaide store into an urban solar power station using Planet Ark Power's unique technology. It will generate clean energy for on-site use and to be shared with the South Australian community.

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    Combining rooftop solar and batteries with Planet Ark Power’s award-winning technology platform, eleXsys®, the project will be Australia’s largest grid-connected commercial microgrid of its kind.

    What’s a microgrid?

    A microgrid is a smaller version of the electricity network that is made up of a community of energy users. It’s connected to the electricity grid, but can also operate independently in times of emergency, such as black outs.

    The IKEA eleXsys Microgrid in Adelaide will combine 1.21MW of rooftop solar (covering a space almost the size of a football field) with a 3.4MWh battery (housed on-site in 3x40ft containers) to meet 70% of the store’s annual energy needs. Planet Ark Power’s eleXsys energy management system will enable the remaining solar energy to be stored and safely exported in large quantities into the South Australian network to be used by the community. 

    Stage 2 of the project will see IKEA Adelaide powered by 100% renewable energy by 2025. 

    This will be achieved through additional rooftop solar housed on shade structures made from sustainably sourced timber which will cover the car park. 

    What does eleXsys do?

    eleXsys enables commercial businesses and warehouses like IKEA to turn their vacant roofs into clean energy generators, akin to a smaller version of a solar farm. It does this by solving the fundamental problem of voltage fluctuations. Until now, this challenge has impeded large-scale rooftop solar uptake as there is no incentive for businesses to fill their roofs with solar beyond their on-site needs.

    The electricity grid was designed to send energy in one direction. So, when large amounts of distributed solar energy from multiple rooftops are exported into the electricity grid, technical challenges (voltage fluctuations) can arise. In order to maintain voltage stability, limitations are increasingly being placed on how much clean energy can be exported from rooftops. While this is in the best interest of consumers, it is also a lost opportunity as it restricts how much clean energy can be shared in our communities and hinders our transition to a low-carbon society. 

    Enter eleXsys – a clean power management device integrated with artificial intelligence that enables large amounts of renewable energy to flow seamlessly into the electricity grid by solving these technical challenges in real time. Rooftop solar systems on average experience an increase of 20-30% in energy production with eleXsys. 

    How does the community benefit?

    By unlocking the full potential of the electricity grid through eleXsys, businesses like IKEA and other buildings with large roof spaces can fill their vacant roofs with solar panels and export surplus clean energy into the grid. This will help accelerate Australia’s transition to a clean energy future by increasing our capacity for solar energy generation and decreasing our reliance on fossil fuels. 

    The cost is borne by companies like IKEA that benefit from selling surplus clean energy during peak periods. This negates the need for expensive upgrades to the electricity grid, which would potentially drive up energy prices for everyday consumers. 

    This is commonly referred to as the ‘death spiral’, where the cost of infrastructure upgrades and maintenance is borne by fewer people as more privileged consumers opt out of utility provided energy. eleXsys will not only assist in decarbonising the electricity grid, but also democratising it by ensuring renewable energy is available to all. 

    Planet Ark supports low-carbon lifestyles as part of our vision of a world that lives in balance with nature. Diminishing our dependency on fossil fuels through investment in renewable energy is a huge part of achieving that goal. The IKEA eleXsys Microgrid is an example of how businesses can drive positive environmental change and create the future so many of us are striving towards.

    Planet Ark Power is a clean energy engineering and technology company and a partner of Planet Ark. Together, we are working to help businesses, schools and other organisations transition to renewable energy with large-scale rooftop solar.

    Learn more about Planet Ark Power and its world-leading eleXsys energy management system.

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    Rachael Ridley

    Rachael joined Planet Ark in early 2019 after eight years working in media and publishing as a producer, editor and writer. Rachael loves using her skills in content creation and communication to instigate positive environmental behaviour change. Outside of work, Rachael enjoys spending time in nature and immersing herself in arts and culture.

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