Solar farm for Wallsend set to save millions

A new solar farm the size of five football fields and capable of generating a whopping five megawatts of power is set to boost Newcastle’s renewable energy capacity tenfold.

The proposed solar farm will be located at Summerhill Waste Management Centre on a capped landfill site once part of the Wallsend Borehole Colliery.

It will be comprised of a 16,000 photovoltaic solar array, and council says it will reduce electricity costs to the city by $4m for each year it is in operation.

It will also help council achieve its 30 per cent renewable energy target set out in the 2020 Carbon and Water Management Action Plan.

“With energy costs soaring and the cost of solar photovoltaic technology falling, the business case is now clear for councils to increase renewable energy use and take control of their energy costs,” council interim CEO Jeremy Bath said.

“We are seeing a boom in construction of solar farms across Australia and local councils will be one of the key beneficiaries from the experience the solar sector has developed.

“It’s also important for our community that we build sustainability into the way we do things, which is why we have moved quickly to increase renewable energy capability and find smarter, more energy-efficient solutions for our city’s needs.

“With the recent adoption of council’s Smart City strategy, this latest project continues to chart the course for Newcastle as a smart, liveable and sustainable city.”

A tender will be issued to eight shortlisted respondents for the design, construction and operation of the solar farm after a feasibility study and expression of interest process last year.

Following the tender, the project will be reported to council for approval and funding.

The solar farm continues development of one of the most advanced renewable energy setups at a waste facility, council has claimed.

Electricity generated will flow into the nearby Ausgrid substation and help offset electricity usage at other council facilities. Newcastle recently joined the Cities Power Partnership, a Climate Council program in which cities and towns pledge key actions to reduce their climate impact.

Summerhill’s solar farm and eight existing solar installations – on the rooftops of public buildings including the art gallery, museum, works depot and libraries – form part of the actions endorsed by council.

This article first appeared in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie Star on 4 September 2017

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