East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant has had a huge crowd turn out this morning to witness the largest floating solar farm in Australia be switched on for the first time and to also celebrate a bounding leap forward for the renewable energy sector bettering our tackle on climate change.
All of the locals of Lismore boasting more than 7.5 million people have vowed to take action against climate change which is one of seventy local councils across Australia.
This new innovation although not Australia’s first floating solar farm is Australia’s largest floating solar farm which will put the town at the forefront of renewable energy, this system was installed above a wastewater lagoon in East Lismore.
This is all apart of East Lismore ‘s great plan to become one step closer in hitting its own renewable energy target by 2023, the 100kw floating solar farm was a very successful project and a first of many with a 5MW ground mount system also in the pipeline.
The two 100kW installations were largely funded by community members under the “Farming the Sun” initiative, which combines community funds with the council balance sheet to enable projects to go ahead.
Floating Solar Farm in Australia
“This is an historic occasion for Lismore. We have demonstrated that you can collaborate with your community and provide renewable energy solutions for a regional city,” Lismore Mayor Isaac Smith said.
He said he hoped 2018 would be a “breakthrough year”, when “even the worst of the (climate and solar) sceptics realise that the time has come.”
Ben Franklin, the local National Party MP, and the state’s secretary for renewable energy, said it was an example of change in the electricity market in the way that power is generated, distributed, and valued.
“It is the first community owned council investment model of its kind, and it shows the hunger in the community when the shares were snapped up so quickly,” he said.
“It shows the community is passionate about renewable energy, and that is will put money where their mouth is. This is the future, and today in Lismore we are part of it.”
The floating solar farm was switched on earlier this month and will provide about 12 per cent of the sewage plant’s annual electricity needs.
Lismore Council’s environmental strategies officer Sharyn Hunnisett said a decision to expand the facility to 500kW, or possibly more, would be made this year.
It is likely to follow the same community funding model, where the community lent money to the council to build the project, and then repaid with interest at a commercial return to the investors.
Hunnisett said battery storage would also likely be added when its costs reduced sufficiently. At that stage more solar would be added and the excess output stored for use at night.
“The project has not been without its challenges to establish and get operational, but now that we have done the hard work we have a model others can emulate,” she said. “We hope to see renewable energy projects like this taken up between councils and communities.”
The floating solar farm technology features 1,200 floats, 280 solar PV modules (each of 355Wp), and 15 on shore and in water anchors and restraining systems.
The largest floating solar farm systems currently under construction are a 13.7MW system in Japan, to be opened In March, and a 70MW project in China.
Will be great to start seeing more and more of these floating solar farms in Australia.