In recognition of the importance local government plays in addressing climate change, the Byron Shire Council has made a substantial investment in a large-scale solar project as it moves towards its zero-net emissions and 100% renewable energy goals. The 5 MW solar farm will be the largest PV project in the Northern Rivers Region of New South Wales.
“This will be the biggest solar farm this side of the range in NSW by a very long shot,” Byron Shire Mayor, Simon Richardson said. “Our plan is to use the energy generated by this solar farm to help Council achieve 100% net zero emissions by 2025 and to be a leader in the region, and NSW, with renewable energy solutions for the future.”
With the allocation of $465,000 in the 2019/20 budget, the Council has paved the way for construction to start as soon as the initial feasibility work is done. Site studies and the procurement processes will progress during the next 12 months, including engagement with key stakeholders including neighbouring residents at Myocum. Construction on approximately 13 hectares of land – currently buffer land adjacent to the Byron Resource Recovery Centre – could start around September 2020, with estimates for practical completion slated for May 2021.
“This will save money in the long-run which in turn is a saving for our ratepayers and it is a key component identified in our Net Zero Emissions Strategy for Council Operations 2025,” Mayor Richardson said. In the strategy released in February, the Byron Shire Council laid out a roadmap to its ambitious goals of net zero emissions for its operations by 2025 and 100% renewable energy by 2027.
The Council has installed over 215 kW of solar on its assets and has plans to install a further 7.8 MW. This includes the 5 MW solar farm, a solar carpark and more rooftop solar.
The 99 kW solar carpark is expected to be installed at the Council’s Mullumbimby Administration Building this year. As well as reducing carbon emissions and energy consumption for the Administration Building by around 20%, the carport structure will provide shade for around 40 public parking spaces.
In the 2019/20 financial year, new rooftop solar systems with the accumulated capacity of close to 300 kW are being planned for the Bangalow, Brunswick Valley and West Byron Sewage Treatment Plants.