Charles Sturt University Strikes Wind Power Deal

Charles Sturt University - Renewable Energy

Building on its considerable on-site solar power capacity, Charles Sturt University has inked an agreement with Iberdrola Australia that will see its campuses supplied with renewable energy from wind power.

Iberdrola Australia will be supplying the green electricity from Bodangora Wind Farm, which is situated around 15 km east of Wellington, near Dubbo in New South Wales. The 113.2 MW wind farm, which consists of 33 General Electric 3.43-130 wind turbines, has been operating since 2019.

Bodangora Wind Farm is within Charles Sturt’s footprint and has brought significant benefits to the local community. Aside from the jobs bonanza associated with the construction of the facility and the subsequent ongoing jobs, the Bodangora Wind Farm Community Fund allocates a minimum of $50,000 each year out to 2044.

Charles Sturt was Australia’s first carbon-neutral University after certification by the Australian Government’s Carbon Neutral Program back in 2016. It’s great to see the University not just relying on offsets and taking more direct action.

“We take our commitment to decarbonisation seriously,” said Charles Sturt University Vice-Chancellor Professor Renée Leon. “We are proud to be using our buying power for good.”

The annual carbon emission reduction achieved through the Iberdrola contract is expected to exceed 18,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). This, says the University, will reduce Charles Sturt’s carbon footprint by more than 45 per cent.

The University’s 2030 Clean Energy Strategy sets a target of removing all scope 1 and 2 emissions from its operations. Scope 1 refers to direct emissions from sources an organisation owns or controls and Scope 2 are indirect emissions associated with generation of energy it buys.

Beyond electricity, this was quite a challenge the University set for itself as gas supplied half of its stationary energy needs.

Charles Sturt And Solar Energy

While the wind power deal will account for more than 95 per cent of Charles Sturt’s total grid electricity consumption, the University has also more than dabbled in on-site solar energy generation to bring down electricity costs and related emissions.

An ongoing solar power project has resulted in more than 14,000 solar panels installed across University campuses to date according to Prof. Leon, but I’ve also seen close to 16,000 modules mentioned. Including Phase II of the uni’s solar rollout  – which is assumed to be completed – the total capacity of on-site installations across campuses was to be 4.5MW. But again, I’ve seen higher total solar capacity reported.

Perhaps Charles Sturt has so much solar nowadays it’s having trouble keeping track of it of it all.

At one point the University held the record for Australia’s largest single-site rooftop solar installation  – a 1.77MW PV project at its campus in Wagga Wagga, NSW.

Trivia: Indicating the leaps and bound commercial solar in Australia has taken in just a few years, 1MW+ rooftop systems aren’t uncommon now. The largest rooftop installation at the time of writing is a whopping 10MW. This mammoth clean power station that commenced operations recently is hosted on Australian Panel Products’ Oberon facility in New South Wales and consists of 27,000 panels over 8 hectares of rooftop.

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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