Orange Aquatic Centre Goes Solar

Solar panels at Orange Aquatic Centre

Image: Orange City Council

A 100kW solar power system has been installed at the Aquatic Centre in the New South Wales regional city of Orange.

The system has been installed at no up-front cost to Council under an agreement with local installer Kenjarhy Solar. Council will make payments over 15 years for electricity generated by the system and the cost of the electricity will be less than what Council is paying for power sourced from the mains grid. After the 15-year period, Council will own the system.

Kenjarhy Solar was founded as a vehicle for Indigenous Communities to gain employment and training opportunities in the renewable energy sector and is one of the only Indigenous owned solar companies in Australia.

The aquatic centre project isn’t the first solar power system Council has had installed, but it is the largest by quite a margin.

“Over the years, the council has installed a number of solar arrays on community buildings around town. There’s a large one on the works depot roof and at a number of the council child care centres, and at each of those facilities there’s been major savings,” said Mayor Reg Kidd.

The Works Depot array is a 35-kilowatt system consisting of 140 solar panels that saved Council $5,000 in electricity costs in the first quarter after it was installed. Savings from that system are reinvested in new energy programs.

Other energy efficiency and emissions reductions actions Orange City Council has been undertaking include upgrading to variable speed drives at its water filtration plant and changing lighting to LEDs at the sewage treatment plant. Lighting is also being replaced with energy saving fittings during routine maintenance on council buildings.

Orange City Council is also a signatory to the Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership, which provides local government bodies access to a national knowledge hub to assist with the implementation of emissions reductions projects.

Businesses and households in Orange have also been switching on to solar power. Orange’s postcode, 2800, is home to more than 2,500 small-scale solar power systems with a collective capacity just north of 11.5MW.

Trivia: The Orange Local Government Area is 290 square kilometres and has an urban population of nearly 40,000. The area didn’t get its name from the citrus fruit, but was named in honor of Prince William of Orange. While Orange is a  fruit growing district, oranges are not among its commercial produce.

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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