Sydney Markets has switched on what it claims will be Australia’s largest private sector rooftop solar system – 8594 solar panels on a single site, with a capacity of over three megawatts.

And in the future, pending board discussions and approval, it may go further, with available roof space meaning there’s potential to triple the system.

Chief executive Brad Latham said the $8.9 million project took a year in planning and construction.

“This solar system will enable us to generate sustainable energy, as well as drastically reduce our carbon footprint,” he said.

The system will provide about 11 per cent of Sydney Markets’ annual site power consumption, equivalent to powering 730 households each year.

Mr Latham said it was part of an overarching sustainability strategy for the company, which includes tackling waste.

“Over the past 17 years Sydney Markets has been a leader in waste recycling, achieving upwards of 70 per cent recycling of all waste onsite, which not only benefits the environment but saves our company over $1 million each year.”

According to Sydney Markets chair John Pearson, down the track there might be capacity to go even further.

“Sydney Markets has additional roof capacity to more than triple the generation of this solar system. We may continue to build upon and expand this system to meet our future energy needs.

“We are committed to reducing waste, decreasing our carbon footprint and prioritising environmental conservation and sustainability.”

Sydney Markets is one of the largest food distribution centres in the Southern Hemisphere, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It employs over 5000 workers and its Flemington site spans 43 hectares. Around 2.5 million tonnes of fresh produce worth more than $3 billion is traded annually.