Solar-loving town to construct PV carpark shade with federal grant money 


The project, which is set to begin construction in April, will feature a roof composed of 99.9 kW solar PV system over 40 public carparks in the Clyde Campbell Carpark as well as an electric vehicle car-charging station, providing shade and battery juice for those visiting the city in northeastern New South Wales.

Maintenance costs for the structure will be funded by revenue made from feeding the panel’s solar energy back into the grid. Solar carpark shade structures are becoming increasingly popular, with Australia’s largest shopping centre, Vicinity Centres’ Fashion Capital in Chadstone, announcing it would add more than 400 solar shaded parking bays in December of last year.

The tender for Lismore’s construction solar structure will be released this month and construction is expected to begin shortly after.

The project will be paid for through a $1 million grant provided by the Federal Government’s Drought Communities Program which has been given to 52 NSW councils to complete infrastructure and other drought-relief projects. Lismore council will spend $650,000 of its grant on the Clyde Campbell Carpark structure, with the remainder allocated to train local landholders on Natural Sequence Farming, a technique to retain water in farming landscapes during times of drought.

“Our community has consistently said they want Council to tackle the impacts of climate change, increase the use of renewable energy and provide more shade throughout the Lismore CBD for locals and visitors,” Deputy Mayor Neil Marks said in a statement.

“This project delivers on all of that and will also provide an electric car-charging station for Lismore, which is exciting news and I’m sure the first of many to come.”

Sustainability focused city

Lismore has been home to number of renewable initiatives over the last decade. The push began in 2013, when the Council undertook what it says is the largest community consultation in its 134-year history. It found residents’ top priority was the environment with the desire to become a model for sustainability.

This consultation period gave rise to Lismore’s Renewable Energy Master Plan, which set a goal to self-generate all electricity from renewable source by 2023. According to the Council’s 2019/2020 report, it had installed 19 solar systems which had resulted in a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions since 2012. Currently, 16% of Council’s energy generated by renewable sources.

Lismore’s floating solar farm

Lismore City Council

Notably, in 2018, the Council partnered with Farming the Sun to launch the Lismore Community Solar initiative which, at the time, was the first Council/community owned solar farm in the country and Australia’s largest floating solar farm.

As part of the initiative, Council established two 100kW solar farms – a rooftop solar farm at Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre and a floating solar farm on the overflow ponds at the East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant.

The floating solar farm model, designed and constructed by Suntrix, was selected to overcome spatial constraints at the sewage plant. It also provides capacity for the solar farm to expand across the overflow ponds. Reportedly, the cooling properties of water help the solar panels last longer and perform better, and the increased shade over the pond reduces evaporation and algal growth. The Council’s aim is to eventually power the sewage treatment plant from 100% solar energy.

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