Melbourne’s second vertical solar array to power 48 storey building

Melbourne now boasts Australia’s largest and most efficient vertical solar panel system, following the completion of the Paragon Tower project on Queen Street in the CBD.

The 48 storey structure has 128 solar panels installed across 158m2 along the side of the building, which will power a 42kW system to provide emission reductions, energy savings and sustainability for the residents.

The panels are Trina Solar HoneyBlack 325W monocrystalline modules that merge seamlessly with the building, so it looks stylish and sustainable.

Property developer Beulah International constructed Paragon Tower, enlisting the help of Melbourne renewables company to provide sustainable additions. The result was the ultra-thin panels installed onto the side of the construction, placed on the exposed lift core.

Chairman of James Dunstan said the goal had been to ensure that the sustainable solutions installed also complemented the aesthetics.

“The combination of a painted lift core and stylish HoneyBlack modules have markedly complemented the design aesthetics, will reduce common property electricity costs,” he said.

“Generating c30MWh (annually) far exceeds the renewables that could otherwise be achieved on the constrained rooftop.”

This installation paves the way for more Melbourne high-rises with limited roof space to join the solar revolution. The technology is here, is affordable and won’t ruin visual appeal, which could see more businesses, developments and residential skyscrapers taking up the technology.


Docklands’ Harbour One was Australia’s first vertical solar skyscraper

WINconnect constructed the first vertical system on the Harbour One building, which generates enough power for 11 apartments while offsetting 27,000 tons of carbon each year.

It means the structure has a dramatically improved carbon footprint and saves $6000 in energy costs every year. It used lightweight panels that weigh around 8kg each to achieve the project.

One of the first buildings in the world to be credited with vertical panels was Chicago’s Willis Tower, formerly known as Sears Tower. This 110-storey structure is a massive 440 metres tall and uses building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) on the 56th floor. It uses solar window technology that generates power, but also includes a thermal barrier that reduces HVAC expenses. While this is only a 2MW system, it paved the way and showed that vertical renewable solutions are possible.

That technology has since advanced, with cells now being constructed that are just one micron thick and are so light they will sit on a soap bubble.

There are other vertical walls in Australia, including the sustainable Welcome to the Jungle House in Darlington, including greenery and ponds throughout. While it is not on the Australian mainland, there is also a 105-panel, 30kW vertical solar farm on Australian territory in Antarctica at the Casey research station.

The technology is now much more affordable and accredited by the Clean Energy Council for commercial use. As these projects have shown, with some creativity, you can power tall buildings with sustainable energy without ruining the aesthetics at the same time.