Coffs Harbour begins rapid solar uptake


Coffs Harbour City Council (Council) has joined a host of other local councils in northern New South Wales (NSW), such as Byron Shire Council and Tweed Shire Council in the fight against climate change and rising energy prices through an extensive outlay of solar PV. Yesterday Council began work on the first sites chosen for a major solar PV uptake in pursuit of its 2030 goal of 100% renewable energy.  

The work is all part of the Council’s Powering Ahead Solar PV Project (Powering Ahead). Beginning this month, the Council will install solar PV at 16 different sites by mid-2020. Powering Ahead builds on the Council’s adoption of a Renewable Energy and Emissions Reduction Plan (REERP) in April 2016. In addition to the Council’s emissions reduction targets, REERP also set an ambitious aim of reducing per annum corporate emissions between 2010-2025 by 50%. 

The first sites set to receive solar PV installations are the Woolgoolga Library (10.2 kW), Council’s Woolgoolga Depot (5.1 kW) and the Woolgoolga Beach Holiday Park (18 kW).  

These installations will be swiftly followed by the Coffs Harbour Community Village (10.08 kW), Sawtell Beach Holiday Park (20.88 kW), Toormina Library (10.2 kW) and the Cavanbah Centre (20.4 kW). 

In total, 16 facilities will have a solar PV installed and managed by local companies Solar Depot and Enesol. Council expects to recoup the cost of installation within five years through the incursions on its energy bills by the solar PV. 

Pictured are (left to right): James Tonson (Corporate Sustainability and Planning Specialist), Jason Bradbrook (Solar Depot), Troy Ryan (Solar Depot), Kersten Schmidt (Enesol), Council Project Manager Greg Hughes, Heather Reid (Acting Section Leader Community Planning and Performance), Elisabeth Nicolson (Corporate Sustainability and Planning Specialist).

Image: Coffs Harbour City Council

Coffs Harbour is not new to solar PV, indeed, in 2010 Council installed what was then the largest public rooftop solar PV array in NSW on the rooftop of Rigby House. The 136.5 kW, 650 panel, solar array produces enough energy to cover 30% of the building’s power, saving Council around $30,000 per annum. 

The Rigby House solar array has since been dwarfed among public solar PV installations by such facilities as the City of Sydney’s Alexandra Canal Depot, an array of 1,600 roof-mounted solar panels that also boasts connection to a 500 kWh Tesla Powerpack. 

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