9th September, 2014 · Technology

Toyota Installs Largest Solar Power
System in Victoria

2 minutes to read

A great change has occurred at Toyota Motor Corporation Australia’s manufacturing plant in Melbourne.
Officially launched in early June, 2000 solar panels, designed and installed by Autonomous Energy, now cover the roof of Toyota’s Powertrain Factory at their Altona North plant. This is the largest roof-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) power system in Victoria and the third largest nationally. The 500kW large scale solar power system produces enough renewable energy to power the equivalent of 200 households, which is equal to permanently removing 570 small cars from the road.

‘One of the exciting things about this project was the number of firsts for solar in Australia,’ Says Mario Como, Production Engineer at Toyota Australia. ‘For example, we are the first site to directly connect a solar array to an industrial site’s internal high voltage network via a single 500kW Central Inverter and transformer.’

The 500kW Central Inverter and transformer were manufactured by leading power engineering company ABB and is the largest ABB inverter installed in Australia to date. The solar panels used were manufactured by Kyocera, who have been making solar panels for over 40 years. Kyocera solar panels are widely accepted as one of the best performing and highest quality panels available today.

‘From day one the priorities for this project have been safety and quality,’ said Mark Gadd, Managing Director at Autonomous Energy. ‘Working closely with Toyota’s engineers, we have set a new standard in the Australian solar industry for safety management and installation quality.’

Autonomous Energy’s solar engineering, installation and project management teams were responsible for all aspects of the complex project. In additon to installing 2000 solar panels and the high voltage inverter, the project required sloping walkways, ladder-ways and access platforms to be built before construction of the solar array could even begin. In total, Autonomous Energy managed the construction of over one kilometre of walkways.

Toyota officially launched their solar power system on June 5 2014, coinciding with World Environment Day and clearly demonstrating the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability, clean manufacturing and innovation.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance analysts recently declared that rooftop solar – on both residential and commercial scales – has become an unstoppable force in the Australian market and forecasts around 23GW of solar PV installed by 2030. This is the equivalent of 46,000 new systems the size of the one recently installed for Toyota Australia. Bloomberg  also calculates that wind and solar are already cheaper than new build coal and gas in Australia.

‘One really exciting new opportunity for Australian businesses is the ability to install renewable energy, such as solar power, at no upfront capital cost,’ says Gadd. ‘We are now able to structure these projects to be cash flow positive from day one, in other words, the energy cost savings generated by a solar power system are greater than the costs of the repayments – making this a real no brainer.’

Toyota Australia’s solar power installation sets an excellent example to other businesses that large scale solar power should be implemented not only to help the environment, but also to benefit bottom line and immediately increase profitablility.

There’s no denying that more manufacturers will follow suit as the world continues to see the advantages of making the swicth to renewable energy.

Aaron Hewitt
Marketing Associate – Autonomous Energy Pty. Ltd.