Cairns council installs another 1.7MW of solar across wastewater plants

Image: Cairns Regional Council

Cairns regional council has begun installing a total of 1.7MW of rooftop and ground-mounted solar – including four “mini solar farms” – across five of its wastewater treatment plants and cut its grid electricity consumption by 25 per cent.

The $3 million solar rollout, which is being delivered by Solgen Energy Group, has almost completed the installation of an array at the Marlin Coast wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) and started on another at the Northern WWTP in Aeroglen, where 1484 PV panels will be installed.

Remaining works at the Southern WWTP (1,484 ground-mounted panels), Edmonton WWTP (combination of 392 ground and roof panels) and Gordonvale WWTP (84 roof panels), are expected to be completed in July.

“The solar farms will reduce Council’s overall emissions by an additional 7 per cent, and increase our solar capacity to 2784 kilowatts,” Cairns mayor Bob Manning said in a statement on Thursday.

Cairns Regional Council is also working towards a 2020 target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50%.

“This is a significant project, especially when you consider that once complete there will be a total of 4200 panels installed across five sites,” Cr Manning said.

Solgen chief commercial officer David Naismith said the company was working with local businesses to construct the mini solar farms, which would generate an estimated 2.92 gigawatt-hours of energy each year for the wastewater treatment plants.

Naismith said solar systems had been designed around existing infrastructure and would use bifacial solar panels made entirely of glass, for longevity, and to maximise solar production through converting the sun’s rays across both sides of the panel.

On Solgen’s website, a note about its work with Cairns Regional Council said the company had tailored designs and managed the installation of solar power systems for many of the council’s sites, estimated to cut 169 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually and reduce their electricity bills by $100,000 a year.

“Cairns Regional Council’s solar initiatives are an outstanding example of reducing costs and reducing emissions while utilising redundant space such as rooftops and reclaimed land,” Naismith said.

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