Aussie Solar Project A Community-Owned First

Queensland is about to begin construction of the the Australian state’s first community-owned solar power plant, in Hervey Bay, north of Brisbane. Once completed, the system will be the largest standalone photovoltaic (PV) system in the state. The 396-kilowatt (kW) Fraser Coast Community Solar Farm will consist of 1,584 solar panels covering almost 28,000 square feet.

The project, which will include a public display of an array of PV technologies, a new high voltage transformer and a road upgrade, will generate electricity to help offset the energy use of Wide Bay Water Corporation, the region’s publicly held water and wastewater management firm. At a cost of AU$2.7 million (US$2.8 million), the project is expected to generate approximately 630 megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy annually, enough to power about 100 homes and save around 600 tons of carbon emissions every year.

solar panels

image via Shutterstock

According to Energy Minister Stephen Robertson, the project is part of a $4 million investment by Queensland in solar energy projects for Hervey Bay. Construction is expected to begin in November on a separate, 266-kW PV system for Hervey Bay Hospital. This system will generate approximately 385 MWh of energy each year, saving the hospital around $20,000 per year on electricity costs, and reducing the hospital’s carbon emissions by 400 tons a year. An interactive kiosk will also be installed in the hospital’s foyer to provide an education tool for visitors.

Both systems will be designed and installed by Australian solar installation company Ingenero, which also installed Australia’s largest flat-panel solar installation at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. “[These] are examples of the range of innovative solar projects being developed by the Queensland Government to benefit local communities,” Robertson said. “They deliver on the Bligh Government’s Toward Q2 target of creating a greener, clean energy future for Queenslanders.”

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).