La Trobe to build ‘largest urban solar farm’ in Victoria


La Trobe University has announced it will build a 2.9 MW solar farm at its Bundoora campus as the university targets net zero emissions from its Victorian campuses before the end of the decade. The PV facility will be supported by a 2.5 MW battery energy storage system of unspecified duration.

Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar said the $10 million (USD 6.4 million) La Trobe University Renewable Zone, which will take the total solar generation at the Bundoora campus to a combined 5.8 MW, is the next step in the university’s commitment to being an industry leader in sustainability.

“The Renewable Zone is a vital step in this journey,” he said, adding that “universities are perfectly placed to not just research ways to reduce emissions and develop renewable energy technologies, but to be change leaders in implementing innovative solutions.”

The La Trobe Renewable Zone is being developed on a 3.5-hectare site at the Bundoora campus with construction due to begin in early 2024.

Once operational, the facility is expected to reduce total university emissions by 15% and provide about 50% of the campus’ daytime power usage requirements.

The solar farm will form part of a larger PV ecosystem already in place at the Bundoora campus. In 2021, the university installed a 519 kW solar array atop a new sports stadium constructed at the site. This followed the energisation in late 2020 of a 2.5 MW rooftop system that included an estimated 7,500 solar panels deployed across almost 25 buildings at the campus.

Other work done to improve sustainability includes installing rooftop solar panels and switching to LED lights at all campuses, installing solar carports at the Bendigo and Albury-Wodonga campuses, implementing EV chargers, transitioning the fleet to EVs, and transitioning buildings from gas to electric.

La Trobe said its four regional campuses in Bendigo, Albury-Wodonga, Shepparton and Mildura have already achieved net zero emissions status.

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