A major rooftop solar rollout by the Tweed Shire Council in the New South Wales Northern Rivers region is expected to start saving the local government around $200,000 on energy costs a year by the end of 2018.
In a Facebook post last week, the Council said a number of PV projects set to be completed by year’s end would see it generating an estimated 1,300MWh/pa of solar power.
“As well as taking action on climate change these projects will generate annual savings close to $200,000 from reduced electricity charges,” the post said.
The Council, like many other local governments around Australia, has a more ambitious renewable energy target than the federal government – and even some state governments – with plans to, ultimately, be energy “self-sufficient,” using renewables.
The Shire’s Renewable Energy Action Plan, published one year ago in October 2017, outlines plans to have 25 per cent of Council’s electricity self-generated from solar by 2022, compared to 2016/2017 use, and 50 per cent – incorporating storage – by 2025.
Overall, council plans to reduce its total carbon footprint by 20 per cent on 1996 levels.
The plan says that to bring Council’s use of renewable electricity to 100 per cent, it would need to enter into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) or develop a large-scale renewable energy generation project.
For now, however, it is focusing on installing solar across all of its facilities, including at a crematorium, on libraries, council depots, water treatment facilities, and at swimming pools.
Among some of the more notable projects either already completed or under construction include 215kW at the Bray Park Water Treatment Plant, 165kW at the Tweed Regional Aquatic Centre, 99kW on the Murwillumbah Art Gallery, and 98kW on the Civic Centre in Murwillumbah.
Deputy Mayor Chris Cherry says the solar roll-out was partly a “push from the community” to keep council costs down and do it sustainably.
“We have a lot of energy use, particularly in our water treatment plants but also in our street lighting and aquatic centres.
“We’re looking for solar solutions. By the end of next year we’ll have 1.3MW of solar power. We’re extremely proud of that
“There is a general move from quite a few councils to look at (solar power) because electricity is a huge cost so they’re looking for alternative and more sustainable solutions,” Cherry told the Gold Coast Bulletin.
“There’s talk in the next stage to look at storage. It’s a complicated step but we want to go there eventually,” she said.