Tasmania tips $2.5 million into solar irrigation project


Tasmanian Irrigation said it has secured $2.5 million in state government funding to help finance its Energy on Farms Solar Project which will see solar PV arrays of up to 100 kW capacity installed at more than a dozen irrigation pump station sites around the state.

The solar arrays, ranging in size from 25 kW up to 100 kW, will improve the energy efficiency of the pump stations with any surplus power to be fed back into the grid.

Each array will be connected into the existing TasNetworks electricity grid and Tasmanian Irrigation chief executive officer Andrew Kneebone said any revenue generated from that surplus power will be passed on to irrigators by way of reduced water costs.

“Farmers may on average save up to $5 per megalitre as we utilise the sun’s rays to power up to 13 of our irrigation pump stations,” he said.

“This is great news for Tasmanian farmers and another example of Tasmanian Irrigation’s commitment to delivering high-surety irrigation water as efficiently and cost effectively as possible.”

Kneebone said construction on the first of the solar arrays is due to commence in December, with the project expected to be completed by December 2023.

The government-backed project is a boost for PV in Tasmania which trails all other states and territories in the solar stakes. Tasmania has achieved its 100% renewable energy but that is thanks primarily to the island’s wind and hydro-electricity projects with solar still in its infancy in the state.

Figures provided by the government reveal that about 44,000 homes and businesses in Tasmania have solar systems, which is about 18% of the state’s households – well short of the more than 30% national penetration rate. The island state is also yet to welcome its first operational utility-scale solar farms but there has been a flurry of activity in the space in recent months.

Brisbane-based Line Hydrogen recently announced plans to establish a green hydrogen production facility at Bell Bay in Tasmania’s north, saying it plans to source the electricity for its plant from Climate Capital’s planned 5 MW solar farm in nearby George Town.

While both the solar farm and the hydrogen plant are still in the planning stages, Line Hydrogen says it expects to break ground on the project by mid-year and is targeting first production on January 31, 2023.

Another aspiring green hydrogen manufacturer, Countrywide Hydrogen, earlier this month said it has teamed with large-scale solar PV and battery energy storage specialist Wirsol Energy to explore solar-to-hydrogen co-development opportunities in the island state.

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