Bathurst Council Readying For More Solar Power

Solar energy for Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre

Image: Google Maps

Bathurst Regional Council is preparing to have another significant solar power system installed – this one on the Memorial Entertainment Centre; and it’s likely not the last.

An invitation for quotes closed on Tuesday this week for contractors to put in their bids for the design, construction and maintenance of a 90kW system for the Centre’s rooftop.

Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre rooftop

Image: Google Earth

A Pioneer In PV

Bathurst Regional Council has been a pioneer among Australian local governments in PV uptake. Its first system was installed in 2009; a 2kW array on the Bathurst Visitor Information Centre. Providing an indication of just how much the cost of solar has dropped since then, Council states that installation was $26,000; but it received a helping hand from the Federal Government.

The same sized system now would cost around $3,000 – $4,500 after the solar rebate. There’s very little demand for 2kW systems these days – even for homes. The most popular size for residential applications currently is 6.6kW; which cost $5,200 – $9,200 fully installed after the rebate for a good quality system and providing much better bang for buck than 2kW.

Since that original 2kW system, Council says solar panels have been installed on 15 of its facilities for a total capacity of 435kW1. These systems combined generate the equivalent of 5.4% of Council’s annual electricity consumption.

The Solar Energy Road Ahead For Bathurst

Electricity remains a major cost for Council. According to its draft Renewable Energy Action Plan dated April 2020, Council facilities consumed 15,069 MWh of mains grid electricity in 2018-19, at a cost of almost $3.5 million.

As a way of further cutting energy costs (and emissions), the draft plan sets the following renewables targets:

  • 25% of Council’s electricity consumption to be from renewable sources by 2023
  • 50% by 2025

Should the targets be adopted, solar energy will help Council get there with more than a dozen significant potential projects noted. Feedback from the community on the draft Renewable Energy Action Plan closed on May 4 this month.

Across the community, solar panels are a fairly common sight on the rooftops of homes and businesses, and the ongoing interest in PV supports a number of solar installers in Bathurst. There were more than 3,850 small-scale solar power systems in Bathurst’s postcode area (2795) as at the end of March this year, with a collective capacity of  around 21,063 kW.

Footnotes

  1. The draft Renewable Energy Action Plan states as of the end of 2019, Council had 14 facilities which have solar PV installations, with a total capacity of 450kW
About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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