At a press conference on September 27, Thomas Stelzer, governor of the provincial government of Upper Austria, officially commissioned the new photovoltaic system on the roof of the SES-managed VARENA shopping center in Vöcklabruck. Together with Marcus Wild, SPAR Board Member and Chair of the SES Supervisory Board, Thomas Krötzl, VARENA centre manager, and the Mayor of Vöcklabruck, Peter Schobesberger, he declared one of the region’s most powerful photovoltaic systems operational.
The system has a total output of 1,353 kWp and covers an area of 8,300 sq m. 3,148 modules were installed and 22 inverters convert the solar energy into usable electricity for the shopping mall. In the future, the center will generate approximately 1,340,000 kilowatt hours of environmentally friendly solar power annually, meeting around 50 percent of its own needs. The switch to generating its own supply eases pressure on the public power grid and saves the company about 800 tons of CO2 per year. Construction began in spring 2023 and the system was commissioned on 27 September.
Upper Austria making rapid progress toward the clean energy of tomorrow
Renewables in Upper Austria are growing at a fast pace. In the past year, Upper Austria has topped comparisons with other Austrian provinces, not only for overall solar and geothermal energy production, hydropower and biomass but also for photovoltaic expansion. As Governor Thomas Stelzer sees it, today’s commissioning of the new photovoltaic system on the roof of VARENA Vöcklabruck marks another important step in the construction of a modern, climate-neutral business location.
“We need to produce as much renewable energy as possible in Upper Austria and further improve energy efficiency in order to retain our region’s competitive edge. In addition to private households, institutions and municipalities, it is local businesses that are having the biggest impact on energy transition by installing systems on the roofs of their buildings while simultaneously driving innovation in this sector. We need powerful, regional initiatives, such as that demonstrated by SES in Vöcklabruck, to deliver a clean energy future for Upper Austria. My congratulations go to the operators on their exemplary investment”, says Thomas Stelzer, Governor of Upper Austria.
Conservation of resources is the number one priority
As the SPAR Group real estate unit, SES keeps a firm finger on the sustainability pulse when it comes to planning, constructing and operating shopping destinations. As far as the parent company SPAR is concerned, sustainability and conservation of resources have been key priorities for decades, from measures to reduce packaging through to saving energy. Targets for cutting energy consumption by 50 percent and greenhouse emissions by 80 percent by 2050 form the cornerstones of SPAR’s energy policy. Indeed, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions have already been cut by 13 percent and 40 percent respectively since 2014. Three key steps to achieving these goals are:
- consistent shift away from fossil fuels
- establishing energy management systems
- generating own energy
The group’s 153 photovoltaic systems in operation at the end of 2022 generated 10.1 GWh of green solar energy in total.
“As Austria’s biggest food retailer, SPAR is still family-owned. This is precisely why we feel committed to ensuring that our company will benefit our children and grandchildren. We are taking vital steps towards safeguarding the future for generations to come with the sustainability initiatives taken by our SES real estate unit in centers in several European countries. SES is developing sustainable strategies for achieving a greener future, ranging from a nationwide network of charging points to generating our own electricity while ensuring the viability of retail locations by making them fit for the future”, comments Marcus Wild, SPAR Board Member and Chair of the SES Supervisory Board.
VARENA: Sustainability means assuming responsibility for the region
VARENA – one of three popular SES shopping centers in Upper Austria – is already committed to responsible use of resources in day-to-day operations and where future development is concerned. Typical examples include mall air-conditioning adjusted to shopper footfall, free cooling using cold water storage or night air and the 12 charging stations for visitors. All mall lighting was converted to LED in 2022 and 2023. VARENA’s energy management system is certified by TÜV Austria (certification body) and the center has been rated as “excellent” for operational management and building performance by BREEAM.at in-use certification.
“The new photovoltaic system on our roof is yet another milestone in VARENA’s sustainability strategy. We are now geared for the future, generating a considerable proportion of the center’s energy needs ourselves, with the remainder met completely by green electricity. Along with all the other measures, we are again demonstrating our responsibility towards the region where we live and work”, adds Thomas Krötzl, VARENA Center Manager.