Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre Splashes Into Solar Savings

Solar panels - Moree

Solar panels recently installed at a very popular and energy-hungry attraction in the NSW town of Moree are expected to slash the facility’s electricity bill by 36%.

Visited by locals and many tourists, the Moree Artesian Aquatic Centre (MAAC) is owned by Moree Plains Shire Council. It’s an expensive place to run and electricity consumption at the centre was previously costing around $18,000 a month.

In December last year a proposed PV project was given the green light and recently two solar power systems were installed – one 100kW capacity and the other 80kW.  Council says the systems will produce “900KW of power a day”, but I think what Council meant was 900kWh of energy a day (learn more about the difference between power and energy).

“The solar systems are a great solution to reduce carbon emissions and operational costs of the facility and is a big step towards a greener and brighter future,” said Moree Plains Shire Council’s Mayor, Katrina Humphries.

Solar Energy And Moree

Aside from these installations, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of solar going on at Council, even though it is very familiar with the benefits.

“The Moree Plains has long recognised the value of solar, with the Moree Solar Farm (located to the south of Moree) being one of the largest solar power plants in Australia at the time of its construction,” said Mayor Humphries.

Moree Solar Farm is a 56MW facility located about 10 kilometres south of the town. As well as being one of the largest PV facilities in Australia when constructed, it was the first to use trackers to orient solar panels with the sun throughout the day to boost energy output, which is estimated at 210,000 megawatt-hours annually. Construction of the plant was completed in 2016 and it has an expected operating life of around 30 years

Aside from the jobs during construction, ongoing jobs and the generation of clean electricity, some of the added and ongoing value to the Shire comes in the form of a financial contribution by owner FRV to a Community Enhancement Fund that helps support local community, sporting and educational organisations. This sort of arrangement is quite common with large-scale renewables projects in Australia; yet another benefit of embracing renewable energy.

There’s one other large-scale solar farm operating in the Moree Plains Shire region – the much smaller Kanowna solar farm, which is 9MW. It also boasts a first; apparently being the first solar facility in Australia to use both DC optimisers and DC-coupling for central inverters.

As for the Moree community, solar uptake is very impressive – there have been more than 2,300 solar installations in Moree and throughout the 2400 postcode to date, and around half of all compatible dwellings have solar panels compared to a New South Wales average of 23%.

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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