NSW government taps solar to power aquatic, agriculture research hubs

An 850kW rooftop solar roll-out across three New South Wales government aquatic and agricultural research facilities will cut their combined grid energy use by 19 per cent, and their annual electricity costs by 22 per cent, or $210,000 a year.

The solar systems, comprising around 2,260 panels, have been installed by Sydney-based outfit Verdia at the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute in Menangle, the Tamworth Agricultural Institute, and the Port Stephens Fisheries Institute at Taylors Beach – headquarters for marine ecosystems and aquaculture research in NSW.

In a statement last week, Verdia said the NSW government normally spent a combined total of around $940,000 a year on electricity at the sites – an amount that would now fall by 22 per cent or $210,000 a year.

And with the program being funded through Westpac’s Energy Efficiency Finance Program, the cost would have no impact on the state government budget, paying for itself in over an estimated 10-year period.

All up, Verdia says the solar systems are expected to save government more than $3.1 million over their expected 20+-year lifespan.

“The cost of electricity generated from solar panels installed behind the meter is cheaper than electricity sourced from the grid,” said Verdia CEO Paul Peters.

“I can’t see that changing in the foreseeable future. And now governments are looking at solar PV to reduce their energy costs, as well as their carbon footprint.

“By funding this investment through Westpac’s Energy Efficiency Program, the NSW government can realise the benefits of reduced energy costs, without any impact on its budget. It takes the risk out of these investments.”

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