Isaac Regional Council Considering Floating PV

floating solar power system

Image: SolarWriter, CC BY-SA 3.0

Queensland’s Isaac Regional Council has given the green light for investigating the potential of using floating solar power system installations on its water assets.

Isaac Region is located in Central Queensland. A good chunk of it sits on top of the Bowen Basin, which contains the largest coal reserves in Australia. The region is home to around 24,000 people living in towns including Dysart, Middlemount, Glenden and Moranbah.

The Isaac Regional Council area is huge – 58,862 square kilometres – and keeping water up to the population on mains is an expensive task. Council spent more than $1.4 million in 2017-18 on electricity for its network of water treatment plants, pumping stations and other associated infrastructure.

At its recent monthly meeting, Council endorsement was sought and given for the Water and Waste Directorate to look into the feasibility of floating solar installations to offset energy costs at various sites and to reduce evaporation losses at Moranbah Water Treatment Plant.

“Power costs are a significant expense to Council, but there is the potential to unlock savings by using on-site solar to offset the energy consumption of these critical assets, so we are taking the opportunity to investigate the feasibility of this,” said Mayor Anne Baker last week following the meeting.

It seems Council has been inspired by an aquatic solar energy project over the border – Lismore’s floating solar installation; a 99kW array that was officially opened early last year.

Renewables Co-Exist With Coal In Isaac

Coal mining is the Isaac region’s largest employer with 25 operating coal mines producing 42%1 of Queensland’s saleable coal, but the council’s ties with this industry hasn’t stopped it from also embracing renewable energy projects.

“This Council continues to make a clear and consistent case for a balanced and responsible approach to the current and future energy mix,” Mayor Baker says.

Seven solar farms have been approved for the region ranging in size from 50 megawatts up to 400 megawatts capacity, plus there’s two under construction and a 65MW project was switched on last week (Rugby Run). Approval has also been granted for one of Australia’s largest wind farms – a 195 wind turbine development at Clarke Creek.

Many of the region’s residents have also jumped on the rooftop solar power bandwagon, although not to the same degree as Queensland overall. The Australian PV Institute (APVI) estimates 9.6% of dwellings in the local government area have solar panels installed, while the statewide figure is 34.1%.

Footnotes

  1. In 2017, Council said mines in its region produced more than half of Queensland’s saleable coal
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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