Shoalhaven Solar Farm Nears Prime Time

Shoalhaven solar farm

It won’t be long before a community-driven solar farm project on the New South Wales South Coast will be helping to power buildings in Sydney.

Finishing touches are being put on a 3MW(ac) solar farm in South Nowra at a 5 hectare site previously utilised for waste. There was very little that could be done with the contaminated site, and it’s such sites that are often perfect platforms for solar energy generation.

The $5 million project was made possible through a partnership between Flow Power, City of Sydney and local community group Repower Shoalhaven; which develops community solar projects in the Shoalhaven, Illawarra, Southern Highlands and Eurobodalla regions.

Shoalhaven Solar Farm has been part-funded by community investors and the electricity it will generate is being sold via power purchase agreements (PPAs) through Flow Power.

The facility’s 8,000 solar panels are expected to crank out 5,900 MWh of clean electricity annually. Some of that is already earmarked for the City of Sydney under a PPA inked in 2019.

“The Shoalhaven community solar farm is an important renewable energy partner for the City of Sydney and we look forward to it becoming operational,” said City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone. “Once online, it will play a vital role as one of three wind and solar farms generating renewable electricity to power 100 per cent of the City of Sydney’s electricity needs.”

Twenty per cent of the energy generated by the facility is earmarked for the City of Sydney, with the remainder to be sold to local business.

Challenging Project, But Rewarding

Flow Power CEO Matthew van der Linden said the venture was the first renewable project of its kind in Australia; and while a challenging one, the rewards will be immense. A trail has now been blazed, with the project acting as a model and roadmap others will be able to benefit from.

“If organisations can follow in the City of Sydney’s footsteps, a net-zero carbon future is achievable,” he said.

The completion of Shoalhaven Solar Farm will be a particularly sweet victory for Repower Shoalhaven, which has been working on the project for more than 4 years. But this final phase has occurred quite rapidly – site works commenced in July this year and the project is expected to be finished next month.

“This is a perfect example of a local community looking at the climate crisis and asking ‘what can we do?’, and the City of Sydney is proud to support them,” stated Ms. Barone.

In addition to the clean electricity generated by the power station, Shoalhaven Solar Farm will support even more renewables in the region.

Back in August we reported upfront rental income paid to Shoalhaven City Council for the site – $216,000 –  was to go into Council’s Revolving Energy Fund (REFund), providing a significant boost to Council’s solar power and battery storage rollout.

That happening was helped along by Shoalhaven Mayor Amanda Findley. Mayor Findley is a strong supporter of renewables in her region and an early adopter of solar power – she has mentioned installing 16 panels on her home’s rooftop 20 years ago at a cost of $30,000. On a somewhat related note, Mayor Findley was a winner in the Cities Power Partnership 2021 Climate Awards last week, in the Climate Ambassador category.

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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