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Solar farm exceeds expectations

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A solar farm in Newcastle has exceeded expectations within its first six months operation.

The site located at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre has generated almost twice the revenue it was projected to make annually.

More than $420,000 in revenue was collected between when it went live in mid-November and the end of April.

This total is well above original forecasts used in the business case’s projected average of $250,000 a year.

Selling energy back into the electricity market, the solar farm further demonstrated its value during the January bush fires when the City of Newcastle supported the state’s damaged energy grid as a net exporter.

“The business case showed the solar farm would save rate payers around $9 million, after costs, over its 25-year lifespan – and so far, it’s on track to do even better,” Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“The solar farm helped us exceed our renewable energy goals under the Newcastle 2020 Carbon and Water Management Action Plan, which targeted 30 per cent of our electricity needs from low-carbon sources.

“By combining solar installations, battery storage and the purchase agreement to power all our operations, the City has created a resilient energy strategy that will protect us from future electricity price spikes.”

Cr Nelmes added the renewable energy sources enabled the council to reduce its operational carbon emissions by more than 75%, compared to the 2008 baseline.

The Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership Director David Craven said the solar farm was a fantastic accomplishment.

“[City of Newcastle] have again stepped up as leader in renewables and as a leader amongst local governments taking significant action on climate,” Mr Craven said.

“Renewable energy is the cheapest form of new energy generation and is proving to save Novocastrians millions, while creating a healthy future for this community.”

The council is also paving the way to an electric transport future by converting fleet vehicles to electric and installing an electric vehicle charging network powered by solar panels and battery storage.

Meanwhile, the City is increasing solar-energy generation on its buildings.

“We recently added an additional 100-kilowatt roof top photovoltaic system to our Waratah Works Depot, doubling the capacity of the system installed onsite in 2013 and taking total generation of our 12 solar systems to almost 9 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy each year,” Cr Nelmes added.

“Our five-megawatt solar farm and over 660 kilowatts of rooftop solar provide the equivalent energy needs of more than 1,770 Newcastle households a year with clean, renewable energy.”

Go to the City of Newcastle website for more.

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