Cairns Council “Mini Solar Farms” Project Update

Cairns Council solar rollout

Five waste water treatment plants in the Cairns region are currently having a bunch of solar panels installed.

The systems are being constructed for Cairns Regional Council, which has been a leader among Australian local governments in PV uptake and emissions reduction. Council doesn’t mention individual capacities, but it says collectively the systems add up to 1.7 megawatts. Some further details on each installation:

  • Marlin Coast WWTP – 756 ground-mount panels (almost complete)
  • Northern WWTP in Aeroglen – 1,484 ground-mount panels (installation about to start)
  • Southern WWTP – 1,484 ground-mount panels (expected completion in July)
  • Edmonton WWTP – 392 panels – ground and rooftop (expected completion in July)
  • Gordonvale WWTP – 84 rooftop solar panels (expected completion in July)

All up, the 4,200 solar panels will generate an estimated 2.92 gigawatt hours of electricity each year, providing 25% of the total energy requirements of the plants. As we mentioned when the project was announced last year, bifacial solar panels are being used and the ground mount systems have crushed concrete beneath them to reflect more light and reduce maintenance.

Plenty Of Other PV

“The solar farms will reduce Council’s overall emissions by an additional 7 per cent, and increase our solar capacity to 2,784 kilowatts,” said Cairns Mayor Bob Manning (pictured above – foreground).

Other systems already installed across the local government area include:

  • Edmonton Leisure Centre
  • Martyn Street Depot
  • Tobruk Pool
  • Cairns City Library
  • The Esplanade Lagoon
  • Northern, Marlin Coast and Southern Waste Water Treatment Plants
  • Sewerage Depot
  • Freshwater Creek Water Treatment Plant
  • Woree Disaster Coordination Centre
  • Trinity Beach Pump Station.

The solar power systems above were installed over 2017/18 and add up to 799kW according to the Cairns Regional Council State of the Environment report for 2018 (the 2019 report doesn’t appear to be available yet).

Among its other related activities, in 2017 Council joined the Cities Power Partnership; a program led by The Climate Council that aims to recognise and accelerate the emission reduction and clean energy successes of Australian towns and cities. In 2018, Council joined Queensland Climate Resilient Councils, a 5-year State Government program aimed at strengthening internal governance and processes to respond to the threats posed by climate change.

Cairns Regional Council has a target of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 50% by this year compared to 2007/08 levels. Given it reached a 47% reduction by 2017/18, reaching the target this year should  be a slam-dunk. In December last year Council began investigating options that could enable the organisation to achieve a target of zero net emissions by 2030 – so there may be more solar energy to come after this rollout is complete assuming it takes on that target.

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.


  1. It’s good to see the news but why aren’t we told what type /brand of panels are being used in these projects . Why.
    I have been reading your emails for the last 3 weeks because the information is very informative. I found your 3 quote system very good and one of these contractors will get my job . I am in the process of buying a 6.6kwh panel,inverter,battery micro processors system. Some shading in winter only.
    All I want to know is which are the best top 10 system’s available. I don’t won’t to look at graphs , scientific data. Get to the chase & tell me what’s good? Can I send you details of the system I have chosen for your expert advice.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      Hi James

      Please feel free to tell me the details of the systems and I’ll tell you what I think of them.

Speak Your Mind


%d bloggers like this: