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Royal Australian Mint targets 230kW-plus solar system

The Royal Australian Mint could soon install solar panels in a bid to slash costs and carbon intensity.

However, the solar cells would not be visible in order to prevent "visual pollution" of the building's heritage aesthetics.

Tender documents, which were published last week, said the mint wanted to "reduce greenhouse emissions and total electricity costs through environmentally sustainable energy".

"Experienced" and "innovative" companies were invited to apply to design, produce, supply, install, operate and maintain the solar photovoltaic energy generation system on the Deakin property's 900-square-metre roof.

The tender said the project would be a large-scale system, with a power rating of 230 kilowatts or greater.

A 230-kilowatt system in Canberra would, theoretically, be capable of producing almost 1000 kilowatt hours of clean energy each day.

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The tender documents included a timetable for the service to start on November 24.

The mint, which produces and circulates coins in Australia, is also a tourist attraction that showcases the history and processes of coins and coin production.

The project aimed to reduce electricity use, cut carbon intensity, and lower peak electricity demand.

However, the project would forgo efficiency in favour of design, the documents said.

The distinctive 50-year-old building has been nominated for heritage listing as it is regarded as a high-quality Australian example of stripped classical architecture.

The tenders documents said the solar array must comply with the mint's heritage management plan.

That means the panels must be installed horizontally, and not protrude from the building's skyline.

"Mounting the PV solar panels on an angled frame is the common industry practice," the documents said.

"However, this will create 'visual pollution' of the building's heritage aesthetics. 

"The proposed installation must not be visible from any vantage point."

But the project will be visible in the mint's public gallery, with plans to live stream the system's performance to a big screen.

The documents also said tenderers should be accredited by the Clean Energy Council, and have the ability to secure a connection agreement with the Actew energy network or a private electricity network.

The design was also expected to be "future proof" so the energy generation system could be compatible with current and emerging technologies.

Mint chief executive Ross MacDiarmid has previously said the project had been under consideration for the past three years .

In April, the mint invited solar companies to submit initial design proposals.

The mint cut its electricity use by about 13 per cent last financial year, though a report listed the building as one of the government's most energy-intensive workplaces.

The solar project would reduce the mint's carbon footprint.

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