Solar exceeds all expectations in NSW coal-country

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In coal-country New South Wales (NSW), the City of Newcastle‘s 5 MW solar farm at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre has exceeded all expectations by generating almost double the expected revenue. 

Original projections for the 5 MW solar farm estimated the solar farm would generate approximately $250,000 a year. However, only six months into the farm’s operation and already it has generated more than $420,000 by selling its excess energy back into the grid. 

As a net exporter, the City of Newcastle was proud that its solar farm helped to sure-up the vulnerable grid during the Black Summer Fires. 

“The business case showed the solar farm would save rate payers around $9 million, after costs, over its 25-year lifespan,” said Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, “and so far, it’s on track to do even better.” 

A new era for coal-country

In August 2019, the City of Newcastle, home to the world’s largest coal exporting harbour, announced its plan to source 100% of its power from renewable sources. By the 1st of January 2020, with the addition of a power purchase agreement with a wind farm, the City of Newcastle achieved its goal, becoming the first NSW Council to source 100% of its power from renewables and saving itself an extra $30,000. 

“By combining solar installations, battery storage and the purchase agreement to power all our operations,” continued Nelmes, “the City has created a resilient energy strategy that will protect us from future electricity price spikes.” 

David Craven, Director of the Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership, said the solar farm was a “fantastic accomplishment by the City of Newcastle.” Craven went on to laud the Council for its commitment to renewable energy and saving Novocastrians millions.

In a short video published by the Climate Council in April this year, the Cities Power Partnership looks at how Newcastle as evolved from shovelling coal and steel to sitting back and letting the sun shine in.  

Whether it’s the regular arm-benders at the Carrington Bowling Club drinking in the golden nectar of solar power, or the light and colour connoisseurs at the Newcastle Art Gallery, in Newcastle, everyone under the sun is getting involved and excited about solar and the clean energy transition. 

Perhaps best of all is the comforting notion that if Newcastle, a city built on fossil-fuels, can get behind the energy transition with more brass and positivity than the State and Federal governments combined, then perhaps there is hope yet.