Big local energy user identifies solar farm site

The site of a potential solar farm in the Shoalhaven, set to save council on their steep energy bill.
The site of a potential solar farm in the Shoalhaven, set to save council on their steep energy bill.

Shoalhaven City Council’s largest energy consumer Shoalhaven Water is looking to invest in solar power, and reduce the ever-rising cost of fuelling its operations.

Shoalhaven Water has identified its sewage treatment plant near Callala Bay as a possible site for a land-based solar farm.

The sewage treatment plant may soon be home to a 30 Megawatt solar farm.

With one Megawatt being enough to power 1000 homes, Shoalhaven Councillor and Sustainable Futures Committee chair Kaye Gartner is pleased with the size of the solar farm.

Council research indicates 41 per cent of the plant’s daily consumption is used between 9-5pm, peak hours for solar power generation.

Further investigations into the feasibility of the project were given the green light at council last month.

There was some concern raised by Councillor Mitchell Pakes about council’s spending on this project during a time where council may also be asking ratepayers to dig deeper.

However, mayor Amanda Findley, who lives in a fully solar-powered home, said it was worth investing in renewable energy sources.

“It’s about financial sustainability,” she said. 

“You have to be able to spend money to reduce your costs.”

The tender for the project may be released as soon as February.

Shoalhaven Water will also investigate the feasibility of implementing a floating solar system on Bamarang Dam near Bundanoon.

The 30-hectare body of water provides enough space for the solar farm.

Aside from the cost benefit of a solar farm, it would reduce evaporation and water loss from the dam and prevent bacteria from forming.

However according to Cr Gartner while the technology is being refined, the idea may not be turned into a plan for a while yet.

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