To power its Adelaide store and support the South Australian power grid, IKEA, in partnership with Planet Ark Power, has launched its Australian-first clean energy storage initiative, with construction now underway on the grid-connected commercial microgrid.
IKEA’s $6.6 million Australia Clean Energy Transformation Project will transition its Adelaide store to operating with 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025, while also transitioning its delivery fleet to 100 per cent zero-emissions.
The project is also being run in conjunction with the South Australian government, SA Power Networks and Epic Energy, which will own and operate the microgrid and provide 70 per cent of the store’s energy consumption.
“IKEA Australia is excited to be working to help shift the dial on clean energy production in Australia,” said Jan Gardberg, CEO and chief sustainability officer for IKEA Australia.
Stage 1 of the project, currently underway, will see 1.2 MW of solar panels installed on-site on the rooftop of IKEA Adelaide, coupled with a 3.4MWh on-site battery, managed by Planet Ark Power’s eleXsys energy management system.
The eleXsys digital platform will enable the surplus stored clean energy to be traded into the SA network, while EV chargers will be erected on-site for customers, co-workers and the IKEA delivery fleet servicing the state.
“About 20 per cent of the total energy produced will be initially stored in the on-site battery and then sold into the SA power network when demand is at its highest,” Jonathan Ruddick, Planet Ark Power, chief commercial officer, told The Fifth Estate.
“Planet Ark Power’s eleXsys energy management system will support the balancing of the electricity grid, not just on stores in Australia, but across the IKEA network around the world,” Gardberg added.
For Planet Ark Power, it is all about de-risking investment in optimised commercial rooftop solar, and Ruddick believes its eleXsys digital platform is a game-changer in this space.
“One of the major problems Australia is facing, particularly in SA and Queensland, is with so much distributed energy resources being pumped into the grid, it’s causing problems with voltage instability,” Ruddick said.
Network operators generally like to keep voltages within a “safe band” and when too much distributed energy goes into the grid, the voltage gets taken out of that safe zone, causing operators to shutdown these large solar and wind farms, significantly impacting on the profitability of these farms.
“eleXsys functions to ensure certainty of revenue streams from the export of surplus solar energy and grid stability services into the grid without the risk of curtailment by electricity network operators,” Ruddick continued.
“What we are doing is bringing solar farms from remote parts of the country into the city providing the cheapest renewable energy, because you are not paying for the costs of transmitting energy over long distances.”
The second stage of the project will include the construction of sustainably sourced timber PV shade structures across the IKEA Adelaide car park, which will host additional solar panels to increase the amount of surplus energy being sold back to the grid.
This stage will generate a further 30 per cent of the store’s energy needs, resulting in IKEA Adelaide becoming 100 per cent powered by on-site renewables.
“This project creates a unique solar generation and energy storage opportunity to export surplus clean energy into the SA power network, while providing support for the network,” said Clive D’Cruz, Epic Energy CEO.
Following these stages, IKEA and its partners will move to investigate the viability of hydrogen energy being generated on-site, and based on the success of the project, there’s even the possibility for the furniture business to transform itself into a clean energy provider.
SA Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the project received $1.95 million in funding through the state government’s Renewable Technology Fund to help better manage the local network to improve the quality of power to nearby homes and businesses.
“The project will let IKEA significantly reduce its carbon footprint and make it easier for other companies to adopt low-carbon technologies and is a significant project for the state.”
The solar array is expected to be commissioned by February next year, with the battery to be ticked off sometime in May, and the entire microgrid expected to be up and running by August 2021.