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Installation begins at Hervey Bay community solar farm

25th Jan 2012

The first solar panels have been installed at Queensland’s first community-owned solar farm project.

Located at Hervey Bay, the $2.7 million Fraser Coast Community Solar Farm will generate 396 kilowatts of solar power.

According to state energy minister Stephen Robertson, the innovative project will see 1,584 solar panels covering 2,600 square metres.

"It's also the first time in Queensland a stand-alone solar farm has been integrated with a major commercial and industrial sector business," he said yesterday (January 24).

"The solar farm will generate approximately 630 megawatt hours of energy annually - enough to power approximately 100 homes - and save around 600 tonnes of carbon emissions every year."

The minister stated that the solar energy generated will help to offset that used by the Wide Bay Water Corporation - the body that delivers water and wastewater services to the local area.

The project has adopted a community focus wherever possible, employing local contractors and upgrading nearby roadworks.

"This creates a potential direct boost of around $570,000 for the Fraser Coast economy," the energy minister added.

The installation - which is due to be completed by late February - adds to the continuing trend of solar farm construction around the world.

Last week Solamon Energy Corp announced plans to build the largest Caribbean solar farm in Jamaica.

Estimated to cost $450 million, the energy firm is planning three 50-acre plots - and hopes to generate 60 megawatts of solar power.

"This program represents a comprehensive approach to renewable energy development, energy diversification, job creation and training for the 21st century," Solamon Energy senior vice president Ainsley Brown stated (January 20).

"Its success will necessitate a level-headed and like-minded approach at the table, as we are offering to tackle and deal with all elements of risk cooperatively and openly examine the implications of carbon credits, fuel or foreign exchange savings, in order to share the greater benefits of solar with our partners, and the communities they serve over the lifetime of this deal."

Solamon hopes that the project will encourage the nation to continue to invest in renewable resources.

According to Mr Brown, in addition to generating solar electricity, revenue created by the project through the sale of carbon credits will be directed toward "establishing employee training and certification programs required to build this and many other similar facilities across the Caribbean".

Posted by Mike Peacock - Solar correspondent

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