National property funds manager Primewest has unveiled its biggest solar energy system to date, as part of its renewable energy rollout at more than 70 shopping centres, big-format retail and industrial sites around the country. Primewest executive director Jim Litis said the 1.3MW solar PV system, worth about $5 million before rebates, will be built on a 7800sqm carport structure at Broome Shopping Centre. The structure, which will shade 530 of the centre’s 770 parking bays, is believed to be the biggest carpark-mounted solar system in WA. Mr Litis said Primewest planned to offset as much energy as possible at all of its owned or managed shopping centres and industrial sites, allowing it to save greenhouse gases and eventually pass on cost benefits to tenants. He said the plan would eventually include its portfolio of offices, but improvements in battery storage was needed before high-rise towers were included in the rollout. Mr Litis said the move was in line with changing community attitudes, in which people and businesses were prepared to pay an upfront lump sum in return for better environmental outcomes and eventual cost savings. The Broome solar energy system will offset about 44 per cent of Broome Shopping Centre’s $200,000 monthly electricity bill. “As people can see, its a big spend of about $4 to $5 million, but with payback in six to eight years,” said Mr Litis. “And we are also not using coal or gas, so it’s a no-brainer.” HFM energy consultant Ramin Danesfaleh, who designed the Broome system, said 44 per cent was the most economical amount that could be offset in systems which did not have extensive battery storage. Mr Danesfaleh said the facility had the added benefit of taking the pressure off the local grid. It would also support the local provider, Horizon Energy, by allowing it to tap into the system during outages. “(The system) will reduce 2000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the environment every year,” he said. Primewest asset manager Vince McQuillen said the company’s next big solar project in WA would be at Primewest Gwelup Shopping Centre. A further 24 PV systems were planned for the east coast over the next two years. He said a contract was being finalised with a local contractor in Broome, chosen for its local job creation, indigenous employment and its cost-effective service. It will create 35 jobs and start in months.