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Newcastle breaks ground on 5 MW solar farm at former coal mine site


Construction has begun at a 5 MW PV array in Newcastle that will cover all of the local council’s daytime electricity needs.  

The new project is being built alongside a 2.2 MW landfill gas generator and small wind turbine, transforming Newcastle City Council’s Summerhill Waste Management Centre, located at the former Wallsend Borehole Colliery site, into a renewable energy hub.

The $8 million solar project has been initiated in an attempt to reduce the council’s  $4 million annual electricity bills, after they doubled over the past two years.

“The solar farm will produce enough energy to run the equivalent of all the City of Newcastle’s facilities during the day, which represents significant environmental returns for ratepayers and millions of dollars in savings,“ Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

The project is expected to increase the city’s renewable energy generation capacity tenfold and save rate payers around $9 million over its 25-year lifespan.

Earlier this year, the City of Newcastle secured a $6.5 million loan from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to construct the Summerhill PV array, which it says will be the largest in the region.

The project is being delivered by international property and infrastructure group Lendlease and renewable energy developer Energy Made Clean, a fully-owned subsidiary of Carnegie Clean Energy.

The 5 MW Summerhill project is one of nine solar projects the Newcastle Council is planning, as a part of the Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership program. This includes solar arrays on the council’s art gallery, museum, works depot and libraries.

“We are building sustainability into everything we do after reiterating our commitment last year to generate 30% of our electricity needs from low-carbon sources and cut overall electricity usage by 30% by 2020,” Nelmes said.

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