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The iconic saw tooth roof of the former Mitsubishi plant will be converted into a major roof-top solar array with the potential to be largest solar installation in the state.

Premier Jay Weatherill said a two-staged request for proposals to develop the solar installation at Tonsley will open this week.

Mr Weatherill said the project would allow up to 25,000 square meters of solar panels to be installed, generating a potential 3.6 megawatts of power.

“The rooftop of the Main Assembly Plant has the capacity to generate the equivalent of electricity required to power up to 770 South Australian homes a year,” Mr Weatherill said.

“The solar array has the potential to save 2430 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year.

“Tonsley is already a world leading example of sustainability and innovation in urban renewal.

“Today’s announcement represents the next step forward in its commitment to design excellence and energy efficiency.

“The rooftop solar project at Tonsley also aligns with the government’s recent announcement to increase South Australia’s renewable energy target to 50 per cent of power generation by 2025.”

Manufacturing and Innovation Minister Susan Close said the proposed rooftop photovoltaic installation will encompass the eight-hectare roof of the former Mitsubishi’s Main Assembly Building, a key feature of the Tonsley redevelopment.

“Securing a solar operator at Tonsley will seek to provide tenants and investors with direct access to solar-powered electricity at a cheaper rate than the grid,” Dr Close said.

“The solar array further adds to Tonsley’s environmental focus to reduce ongoing energy operating costs and demonstrate a significant reduction in carbon emissions.”

An innovative retailer-funded business model will leverage private investment rather than additional government funding.

Request for proposals

In Stage 1, proponents are invited to submit a proposal demonstrating how they would deliver the requirements of the Tonsley solar project. In Stage 2, shortlisted proponents will be invited to work with government to negotiate a delivery agreement for the solar system at Tonsley.

The request for proposals also includes an option to expand onto the adjoining TAFE SA Sustainable Industries Education Centre roof space.

The Sustainable Industries Education Centre at Tonsley has been recognised internationally, recently winning an award at the World Architecture Festival.

MPH Architects took home the Creative Re-Use category at the Festival in Singapore for its work on the Sustainable Industries Education Centre that incorporates the Tonsley TAFE.

Ninety per cent of the existing steel structure of the old plant was retained for the new centre, with glazed partitioning both internally and on the façade showcasing TAFE’s activities to the public.

Tonsley’s sustainability features

Tonsley is one of two pilot programs in South Australia pursuing sustainability ambitions for a five-star Green Star Communities rating from the Green Building Council of Australia.

The proposed solar project will support Tonsley’s economic development objectives and will further stimulate local economic activity and community development by providing training and employment opportunities.

The 61-hectare Tonsley site is located 10 kilometres south of Adelaide’s central business district.

Tonsley is projected to provide 6,300 jobs during the life of the project and the site will annually accommodate 8,500 students.

Tonsley’s innovative approach to creating a research, training and design precinct is already breaking new ground with initiatives that will showcase improved building design and construction, infrastructure, energy, water and waste systems.

Tonsley’s sustainable features will include:

  • A high quality, healthy urban environment in which residents and visitors can interact, live, play, work and study
  • A public place where water sensitive urban design principles support sustainability and reduce running costs
  • Connected walking and cycling paths for easy access to public transport
  • A smart grid energy system with the potential to reduce ongoing energy operating costs and demonstrate a reduction in carbon emissions.
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