Australia’s secretive defence operations HQ to get 1.9MW solar farm

One of Australia’s most secretive and secure defence facilities is set to be solar powered, with a new 1.9MW solar farm to be added to Australia’s defence operations headquarters located just outside Canberra.

The 1.9MW solar installation will be added to the Headquarters Joint Operations Command (HQJOC) facility, which houses Australia’s most senior defence leadership, and is where Australia’s international defence operations are coordinated.

The high security facility off-limits to the general public. HQJOC is located on a dedicated property located around 20 kilometres to Canberra’s east. The facility is located within a block of land within a high security perimeter, with an area of around 115 hectares, allowing the solar farm to be located on-site.

The new solar farm is part of a larger $31 million upgrade to the HQJOC facility announced by defence minister Linda Reynolds on Friday, which will include upgrades to security infrastructure, car park upgrades and early works that will lead to an expansion of the number of personnel based at the facility.

“We have seen the vital role HQJOC played in the Australian Government’s response to the Black Summer bushfires and COVID-19. This investment will improve the facility’s capacity to support the Australian Defence Force’s response to domestic and international crises,” defence minister Linda Reynolds said.

“When the expansion is complete, HQJOC will house up to 1,400 personnel, doubling its capacity from when it was originally built in 2008, to cater for increasingly complex multi-domain operations including cyber and space.”

The upgrades are being completed in partnership with investment managers IFM Investors, which manages investments on behalf of industry superannuation funds, and which has partnered with the Australian Defence Force in the development of the HQJOC facility.

“We’re proud to be a long-term trusted partner of the Australian Defence Force and be part of this project that will help create local jobs and support the local economy,” IFM Investors CEO David Neal said.

It will be far from the first defence facility to be supplied by an on-site solar energy installation.

In 2018, the Australian Air Force installed a solar and battery storage microgrid system at a facility in the Northern Territory.

The Department of Defence subsequently installed a 1.2MW solar array at the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station near Geraldton, Western Australia, as well as 12.5MW of solar arrays split between two facilities, the Robertson Barracks in the Northern Territory and the RAAF base in Darwin.

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