First Lismore Community Solar Array Up And Running

Solar energy project - Lismore City Council

Solar Panels On Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre

A significant solar power system installation on Lismore’s Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre is now operational, helping Lismore City Council towards its renewable energy goal.

Installed by Nimbin-based renewables firm Rainbow Power Company, the solar panel array is the first of two 99kW systems under the Lismore Community Solar initiative; a trailblazing collaboration between Council and not-for-profit organisation Farming the Sun.

Some of the funding for the Aquatic Center installation was provided by the ‘impact’ investors of a community company, who can expect to see a return on investment a little better than what they would receive from a bank. Council will repay the investors over a period of seven years; followed by a ‘bullet’ repayment of capital in full.

“After several years of hard work between Council, Farming the Sun, and locals committed to renewable energy, it is incredibly exciting to see this first solar farm now powering one of our biggest facilities,” said Council’s Environmental Strategies Officer, Sharyn Hunnisett.

Project 2 – Australia’s Biggest Floating Solar Array

The second project, expected to be installed by the end of July, will be a floating PV installation at the East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant; reportedly the largest floating solar power system in Australia.

A similar financing arrangement is in place for the treatment plant installation and both projects have also been assisted with funding  from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage Growing Community Energy grants program.

Ms. Hunnisett stated the project model had attracted a significant amount of interest, both in Australia and from overseas.

The arrays will add to an estimated 5,041 sub-100kW solar power systems in Lismore. Existing systems in the 2480 postcode area have a collective capacity just shy of 15MW according to the latest figures (April) from Australia’s Clean Energy Regulator.

The 99kW solar arrays are part of Stage 1 of a Renewable Energy Master Plan that will see Council self-generating all its electricity from renewable sources by 2023; a goal it adopted in 2014.  Stage 2’s centerpiece includes the potential construction of a large-scale 3.8-4.7 MW solar plant.

Prior to the Master Plan’s adoption, Lismore City Council had already dabbled in solar energy. Earlier in 2014, it had installed 165 kW of solar panels at the waste management facility, Brunswick St depot, Crematorium residence and Lismore Airport.

Even earlier projects  (2011) included a 3.885 kW solar panel system at Lismore Art Gallery and the same at Council’s CBD office. In 2010, 9.62 kW PV systems were installed at Brunswick Street Depot and the State Emergency Service Building.

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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