More Solar Power For University Of Newcastle

2018 will see Australia’s University of Newcastle (UON) boost its solar power street cred significantly with more PV to be installed at its Callaghan and Ourimbah campuses.

A $4 million 2-megawatt project to be carried out this year will result in more than 6,000 solar panels installed across approximately 25 buildings at the Callaghan campus, with modules also installed at Ourimbah.

Systems already in place across the University include a 75- kilowatt array on top of the library at Ourimbah and an 8.6kW system on the Industry Development Centre at Callaghan.

Additionally, 80kW of solar PV capacity was installed in 2014 and 2015 at Port Macquarie, Tamworth and Taree. These systems are estimated to generate approximately 120,000 kWh of clean electricity per annum and avoid 100 tonnes of carbon emissions a year.

The University of Newcastle has set a target of a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions per metre square of gross floor area by 2020 from a 2007 baseline.

Other efforts in this regard include the replacement of fluorescent lighting with LEDs in various buildings and external street lighting is being converted to LED in an ongoing program. In 2016, UON procured 10 per cent accredited Greenpower across its campuses.

A 2016 feasibility study of a proposal to switch the Callaghan campus to 100% renewable energy by 2020 indicated up to 12MW of solar and installation of 5MWh of battery storage systems would be required, along with energy efficiency initiatives and Greenpower to make up any shortfall.

The Callaghan campus is home to the Tom Farrell Institute for the Environment, the gateway to environmental research and teaching at the University of Newcastle

Utility scale and commercial solar is increasingly helping universities throughout Australia to not only reduce emissions, but also to slash electricity costs and enhance research opportunities for students.

Other Australian universities harnessing the power of the sun – or soon to  be – include UNSWMonash, Charles Sturt, University of Southern Queensland and University of Queensland.

As well as weaning off fossil fuels for on-site energy supply, some Australian universities are also divesting from them; including La Trobe University, Swinburne University and Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

Tomorrow, representatives from Australian Universities are gathering in Canberra for a conference to discuss where universities see themselves in a changing world. A rally will be held outside the conference to call on the Vice-Chancellors attending to divest from fossil fuels and transition their campuses to 100% renewable energy.

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.


  1. I am surprised that the list of Australian universities using solar energy, does not include any from WA.

    I had expected that WA univerities would be using solar and wind energy for all of their electricity requirements.

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