Another Solar + Storage Stadium Project In Victoria

Solar energy for Echuca Stadium

Victoria’s Campaspe Shire Council has announced it will be installing a solar and battery storage system at Echuca Stadium.

The solar aspect will be 50kW and the battery system 36kWh capacity – a bit under the equivalent of three Tesla Powerwall 2’s.

“The solar and battery system is expected to have a return on the investment after five years and three months and will continue to reduce the stadium’s operating costs into the future,” said Mayor Cr Adrian Weston.

That’s a pretty good simple payback period for solar + storage if correct; but it will be the PV doing the heavy lifting – a solar-only installation would have provided a significantly faster payback.

But the battery will have an important task – supporting the stadium as one of Echuca’s emergency relief centres. In the event of a mains grid blackout, the centre will be able to continue to operate overnight on basic services (lights and refrigeration). It’s assumed the system will also offer “level 3” battery backup; i.e. that the panels will be able to charge the battery system when the grid is down.

A Switch From Solar-Only

According to minutes of a meeting held on Tuesday, Council was originally looking at a 60kW solar-only system, but it was found existing electrical infrastructure at the site would need upgrading to take advantage of the system’s export capability. This would have been at an additional cost of $21,000 and extend payback from 4 years to 6 years. But even with the upgrade, there was no guarantee Distributed Network Service Provider (DNSP) Powercor would accept the grid connection application.

The solar + battery option was chosen instead, but without the infrastructure upgrade it also means the system will limited to 5kW maximum export.

The $152,000 required for the project ($90k solar, $62k battery) will be in part funded by savings gained under the Watts Working Better Project, an energy efficient street light retrofit program.

Another Campaspe Shire Council solar installation is a 100kW system at Echuca Regional Library, which commenced operations last year. A good quality solar power system in Echuca of that capacity can generate approximately 156,500 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year.

Council is also considering other projects, with three sites identified to potentially have solar installed in the future – Echuca War Memorial Aquatic Centre, Campaspe Children’s Centre and Port of Echuca Discovery Centre.

As for other non-Council upcoming significant projects in the LGA, there’s a proposed development in Koyuga involving the construction of a 4.875MW “micro solar farm” facility (23,040 solar panels). Keeping the system below 5MW avoids some regulatory red tape. Should that project go ahead in a timely fashion, it will be the largest solar energy facility in the Shire.

While Campaspe Shire Council’s Echuca stadium project will be the first emergency relief centre in regional Victoria able to operate off-grid with a solar and battery system, another project was officially launched earlier this week. Much closer to Melbourne in the Shire of Nillumbik, a 100kW solar/ 100kWh battery system at Diamond Creek’s stadium is now operational.

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.

Comments

  1. Des Scahill says

    The contrast between ‘Federal’ and ‘Local’ government’ responses to both energy security and climate change continues.

    Top marks to Eucha Council for also having the foresight to cater for a possible future need for ’emergency relief’.

    One of the unintended byproducts of ‘climate change denialism’ is that it influences both the nature and degree of preparation that government agencies and individuals undertake regarding the possibility of ‘adverse’ natural events and their flow-on effects.

    If you’re convinced that ‘climate change is a hoax’ then – for example, you’re far more likely to under-estimate the impact of such events because you’ll be basing your estimates on an implied assumption that past data is the best reliable predictor of ‘extreme’ events, their frequency and their peaks and troughs, and discount significantly other forecasts by environmental scientists.

    There is a growing problem in both Australia and our near neighbours such as NZ and South Pacific island countries. It’s called ‘Food Poverty’. We are already seeing more and more instances of families being unable to afford to buy adequate nourishing food because its becoming priced out of their reach due to a combination of ‘shortage’ caused by extreme weather events, crop failures, 70% decline in insect population including species that play a key role in the pollination of food crops, plus escalations in other living costs.

    The same problem is increasingly evident in Europe ( see https://www.sustainweb.org/foodpoverty/whatisfoodpoverty/ ), and you can find more detail of its extent in the UK here at:
    https://www.endhungeruk.org/2019/02/07/uk-food-poverty-now-public-health-emergency/

    I was quite surprised myself at the severity of the problem in countries we usually tend to think of as having a ‘western’ standard of living comparable with that of Australia.

    Residential solar PV and consequent reduced electricity bills plays a not insignificant role in helping people cope financially, as do initiatives by local councils to lower their operating expenses.

    The self-nominated ‘masters of economy management’ aka known as the Australian Liberal Party seem convinced though, that heavily subsidized coal and nuclear power generation for the masses (that said masses will end up paying for eventually anyway one way or another) remains the best solution.

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