Canberra makes strides toward carbon neutrality

21st Aug 2013

A pair of new solar projects that will soon go online are just the latest evidence that the Australian Capital Territory is hoping to solidify its place as the top region in the country for solar energy development and renewable energy growth in general.

Together the plants will supply enough renewable electricity to keep the juice flowing to more than 5,600 households around the region. Including the money spent on these two latest endeavors, the ACT has spent more than $100 million on solar power development.

The new solar power facilities will sprawl across 80 hectares of land and be built by China's Zhenfa Solar and Australia's OneSun. Zhenfa's project in Mugga Lane will add an addition 13 megawatts of solar capacity  into the region's electric grid, while OneSolar's farm in Coree will generate up 10 megawatts of power.

Simon Corbell, the ACT's environment and sustainable development minister, stated that although there were several potential companies that could have performed the project, the decision was based on who could provide the territory with the best value.

''Not only do they bring a very competitive price, which means we deliver the largest amount of solar energy at the cheapest price for consumers, but they also bring the necessary financial and technical expertise and backing that's needed," he told The Canberra Times.

"Both of these projects will need development approval, will need to go through a formal consultation and public notification process."

The region's big solar plans

The new projects are certainly a noteworthy achievement, however they are just a small piece of what the ACT government hopes will be a decades-long process to become the country's green leader.

By 2020, the ACT expects to derive 40 per cent of all its electricity from renewable sources, with solar a major contributor. However, the territory doesn't plan to stop there. By 2060, government officials say it could be completely carbon neutral.

It's ambitious goals like these that make Canberra and the ACT the top region for solar development anywhere in the country.

John Grimes, chief executive of the Australian Solar Council, stated there was "absolutely no question" that the ACT is the best place in the country for solar progress.
"The [ACT] government has set a target of 240 megawatts in total, which amounts to over 25 per cent of total energy use in the territory," he explained.

"It's a really big target and no other government in the country is coming close."

Posted by Mike Peacock

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