Coal port of Newcastle to get 5MW solar farm

Plans to develop a 5MW solar farm on a former landfill site in the NSW coal port city of Newcastle are set to go to tender, after eight companies were shortlisted to bid for the job to design, build and operate the utility-scale solar farm.

The project, which was opened to expressions of interest in October last year, is part of the Newcastle Council’s commitment to source 30 per cent of its electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030, and cut its emissions by 30 per cent by the same date.

The construction of the new 5MW solar farm at the Summerhill waste management centre will add to eight other solar installations – on the rooftops of public buildings including the art gallery, museum, works depot and libraries – and the 2.2MW landfill gas generator already installed at the Summerhill site, alongside a small wind turbine. The city is also paving the way for battery storage and electric garbage trucks.

The projects are in line with the council’s 2020 Carbon and Water Management Action Plan, and recent climate action pledges made as part of the Cities Power Partnership.

According to the City of Newcastle, electricity generated by the new solar farm will flow into an Ausgrid substation and help offset usage at other Council facilities – a measure that is expected to generate millions of dollars in power cost savings, even with construction and operating costs factored in.

The City is also working to provide bicycling infrastructure and electric-vehicle chargers, and is installing energy-efficient LED lighting.

“With energy costs soaring and the cost of solar photovoltaic technology falling, the business case is now clear for councils to increase renewable energy use and take control of their energy costs,” said Newcastle City Council Interim CEO Jeremy Bath.

“It’s also important for our community that we build sustainability into the way we do things, which is why we have moved quickly to increase renewable energy capability and find smarter, more energy-efficient solutions for our city’s needs. With the recent adoption of Council’s Smart City strategy, this latest project continues to chart the course for Newcastle as a smart, liveable and sustainable city.”

© 2017 Solar Choice Pty Ltd