QLD’s Maranoa Council Looks To Solar Power To Slash Energy Costs

Maranoa Regional Council decided last week to proceed to the detailed design phase for installation of solar power systems at 13 of its facilities.

Situated in south-west Queensland, the Maranoa Regional Council area incorporates towns including Roma, Injune, Mitchell, Surat, Wallumbilla and Yuleba. The region is home to ~12,666; most of whom live in Roma – which is around 480 kilometres west of Brisbane.

In March last year Council initiated an energy audit on 19 of its key assets; including offices, tourism facilities, swimming pools and workshops. One of the key recommendations resulting from the audit was the installation of solar panels at 18 sites. This was followed by a solar energy design assessment, which recommended Council take the next step towards installation of solar across 13 sites – a detailed design stage.

Big PV System For Roma Airport

The largest system on the list is for Roma Airport – a 250kW solar carpark shade structure.  Roma Airport is the biggest electricity consumer of all Maranoa Council’s sites, consuming 300MWh plus annually. A 250kW system could generate around 448 megawatt-hours each year – so nearly 50% more than the facility consumes.

Other sites on the list and the recommended system sizes are:

  • Roma Saleyards: 30kW
  • Roma Sports Centre (PCYC): 100kW
  • Roma Swimming Pool: 5kW
  • Roma Administration Building: 70kW
  • Mitchell Hall: 15kW
  • Roma Library: 70kW
  • Mitchell Administration Building: 15kW
  • Roma Depot: 70kW
  • Mitchell Library / Gallery: 10kW
  • Roma Big Rig1: 30kW
  • Surat Administration Building: 15kW
  • Mitchell Depot: 30kW

That adds up to 710kW of solar capacity, which could generate (rough calculation) approximately 1,274 megawatt-hours (1.274 gigawatt-hours) of clean electricity a year.

The previously prepared design assessment report put the indicative cost for installation at the 13 facilities at $1,230,500. Initial savings on Council electricity bills has been estimated at approximately $208,000 per year.

Should the Roma Airport project go ahead, it looks like it could be the largest  commercial solar PV installation in Maranoa Shire. According to information from the Australian Photovoltaic Institute (APVI), the Maranoa LGA had 7,667 kW of solar installed as at January this year, with 1843 instances being under 10kW; 110 systems between 10-100kW, and zero installations more than 100kW capacity. APVI estimates 28% of all dwellings in the Maranoa Regional Council area to have solar panels installed.

Footnotes

  1. The Big Rig is a destination dedicated to the history of Australia’s oil and gas industry. Apparently Roma was the first place in Australia where natural gas was discovered
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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