Commercial solar energy use has been increasing in Australia, and nowhere is this more evident than in University of Queensland’s Gatton campus, where Queensland’s biggest solar installation will be constructed. According to the university, work will commence after Christmas and by December 2014, the installation will supply a third of the power required by the campus. Expectations are also high this will be followed by other campuses in the country.
A Game Changer
The Gatton plant is going to be comprised of 34,000 solar panels and will be installed at the Gatton campus runway. This project, which was made possible by a $40.7 million grant from the government, has been described by project director Paul Meredith of the Global Change Institute as a “game changer”. Besides Queensland University, First Solar and AGL Energy are also project partners. The Professor also said two other plants are scheduled for development in New South Wales. When the Gatton project is completed, the benefits will be something like solar Brisbane; in that clean and renewable energy will be supplied, making it an ideal place for teaching and research.
Only the First Step
But as Professor Paul Meredith noted, the Gatton plant is only the beginning, as First Solar and AGL Energy Limited are drawing up plans to construct a 53 megawatt plant at Broken Hill and a 102 megawatt plant over at Nyngan at New South Wales. Once these solar plant projects are completed, it will be the largest in the country’s history.
While these are still in the planning stage, the Gatton plant will complement the 1.22 megawatt photovoltaic array at the UQ’s rooftop which was completed back in 2011. To this day that project is the largest solar installation in Australian history. According to UQ Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Hoj, this project won’t just provide power but also generate interest from researchers which will benefit the government and the community.