First Stage Of NSW Courthouse Solar Rollout Complete

Solar energy - NSW courthouse project

The first stage of an initiative to introduce some solar powered justice in NSW has wrapped up – a little late and it seems one installation short.

NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman announced yesterday rooftop solar systems have now been installed at 22 courthouses across the state. $4.1 million has been spent on the first stage of a program to make courthouses more energy efficient and to reduce greenhouse emissions from their operations.

Collectively the systems are expected to save more than $460,000 on electricity costs in the first year of operation and more than $6.8 million over 10 years; while avoiding 1,899 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year. As for the size of the systems, that’s not clear – but an installation at Sutherland Courthouse we mentioned late last year is 100kW. That installation also included battery storage of unknown capacity. All told, more than 3,000 solar panels were to be installed across the courthouses involved.

The next stage of the NSW Government’s courthouse solar project will see further upgrades including the installation of energy saving LED lighting and motion sensors in non-court areas.

The courthouse solar upgrades began early last year and were originally slated to be completed in June 2022. Initially, there were to be 23 courthouses involved, so one has missed out.

It appears there was also significantly more spent on the rollout than planned. The original announcement noted $1.8 million was to be invested in the first stage, so perhaps there’s been some confusion regarding numbers there. But the Attorney General’s announcement also mentions “associated work” in relation to the $4.1 million figure.

Megawatts Vs. Megawatt-hours

Speaking of confusion, one of Mr. Speakman’s comments about the rollout is worth highlighting:

“Investing in renewable energy technologies substantially saves on running costs and substantially contributes to a cleaner environment,” said the Attorney General. “The completed first stage of the courthouse solar program will generate up to 2,403 megawatts of electricity every year, which is equivalent to the average power use of 442 residential homes.”

AG Speakman probably meant 2,403 *megawatt-hours* (MWh). Megawatts is a measure of power, while megawatt-hours of energy. Confusing power/energy units is really common and it’s important to know the difference – particularly for those considering going solar (or discussing it). Learn more about the difference between power and energy here.

Completion of the first stage of the state-wide courthouse solar program was announced during the Attorney General’s visit to Tweed Heads Courthouse with Member for Tweed Geoff Provest. $780,000 has been spent on major upgrades to Tweed Heads Courthouse, including a new roof and a solar power system.

“The NSW Government’s commitment to investing in renewable energy at Tweed Courthouse is an investment in a greener future for our community,” said Mr. Provest.

The courthouse initiative is supporting a State objective to deliver a 70% cut in emissions by 2035 compared to 2005 levels, and to achieve net-zero by 2050.

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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