The Sunshine Coast Solar Farm is live and feeding electricity into the Energex power grid. Electricity generated over one year will be enough to power the equivalent of 5000 homes.
In 2017, the Sunshine Coast Solar Farm won The Wendy Chadwick Encouragement Award competing with many projects statewide.
The solar farm project, commissioned by Sunshine Coast Council, overcame
a number of significant challenges and is innovative and future-focused showcasing how local governments can actively lead energy projects.
The Council is the first local government in Australia to build a utility-scale solar farm. The solar farm is the first of its kind in South East Queensland to be connected to the Energex grid.
The solar farm was constructed using the skills of ten local businesses and will provide council with an estimated $22m in savings over a 30-year period. It is also the first solar farm in Australia to operate at 1500 volts DC which enables it to operate more efficiently.
The panels are at a height to protect from potential flooding in the former sugar cane land site. Aluminium tables held up on screw piles are used to hold the 57,000 panels above the floodplain.
It will also support local economic development through council’s establishment of a ‘Clean Hub’ to increase investment in solar energy and similar renewable energy projects on the Sunshine Coast.
About 36,000 tree and shrub seedlings are being planted around the solar farm’s boundaries in one of the largest revegetation projects to be undertaken on the Sunshine Coast.
Mayor Mark Jamieson said the 15 megawatt (MW) solar farm allowed the council to take control of its own electricity supply, combating rising electricity costs and achieving an important sustainability milestone.
“All power consumed at all of the council’s facilities, including our administration buildings, aquatic centres, community and performance venues, as well as holiday parks, libraries, art galleries and sporting facilities, will be offset with energy from a renewable source thanks to this nation-leading project,” Mayor Jamieson said.
“Our vision is to be the most sustainable region in Australia – healthy, smart, creative.
“This leap forward in the clean energy sector helps our council to deliver on that promise.”
Downer Utilities Executive Director Trevor Cohen said Downer was pleased to partner with Sunshine Coast Council on its journey towards becoming Australia’s most sustainable region.
Diamond Energy’s Managing Director Tony Sennitt said: “This project is an excellent example of how – working together – projects like this generate change in the Australian energy market.”
Councillor Stephen Robinson said the solar farm would further help the region transition to a clean and low carbon economy.
“With our own solar farm now generating, this is equivalent to a 140MW renewable energy power station on the Sunshine Coast,” Cr Robinson said.
At its peak, the solar farm will generate 15,000 kilowatts of electricity, which will go straight into the Energex network.
”Energex Asset Manager Northern Steven Lynch congratulated Sunshine Coast Council for its vision and determination to deliver this clean green initiative.
“Energex sees grid-scale projects like this as a key part of our low-carbon future.”