Castlemaine’s Historic Market Building Going Solar

Market Building - Solar Energy

Image: Mount Alexander Shire Council

Old meets new – the Market Building in Castlemaine will have solar panels installed this month, with the blessing of Heritage Victoria.

Completed in 1862, the complex originally boasted 22 shops selling local fresh foods and products. The building is a mix of Australian colonial, Greek and Roman Classical Revival styles, and was dedicated to Ceres, the Roman goddess of harvest – so it’s quite fitting that it will soon be harvesting the sun.

A small commercial solar system (14.5kW) will be installed on the roof the building, which these days is primarily used as the Castlemaine Visitor Information Centre. The PV array is expected to generate around half of the electricity consumed by the building and save Mount Alexander Shire Council approximately $5,000 each year. A similar sized system installed on Castlemaine’s Civic Center is generating around 20,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.

“The Market Building has a large roof area and is occupied nearly every day of the year with our Visitor Information Centre. This makes it an ideal location to benefit from solar panels,” said Council’s Rebecca Stockfeld.

It can get rather toasty inside the premises, reaching 35 degrees in summer, and the solar panels will offset electricity used for cooling.

Given the building’s heritage listing, the project needed approval from Heritage Victoria and the system has been designed in a way so that the solar panels won’t be seen from street level surrounds.

Another iconic Castlemaine building harvesting the power of the sun is the Town Hall. In 2015, 120 solar panels (30kW total system capacity) and Enphase microinverters were installed on its rooftop.

Council has also supported solar energy initiatives in the wider community, including the Solar Savers scheme that assisted pensioners in having PV installed, with the cost paid off through savings via Council rates. It is also encouraging businesses to take advantage of Environmental Upgrade Agreements that enable eligible commercial property owners to install solar systems and other energy efficiency upgrades, with up 100% of project costs repaid through Council rates on a quarterly basis.

Mount Alexander Shire Council has a fixed target for achieving carbon neutrality for its own operations between 2025- 2040 and is aiming to achieve it at the start of the time-frame. Solar energy will continue to play an important role in realising its carbon neutrality goal, with more to be rolled out on Council facilities in the years ahead.

The Council’s Climate Change Action Plan 2016 – 2020 can be viewed here (PDF).

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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