Redland City going solar

Redland City Council will investigate building a local solar farm and installing solar panels at several Council owned sites to reduce power costs and provide greater energy efficiency.

Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said the solar projects had the potential to save more than $10 million over 20 years and were part of a Renewable Energy Feasibility Study adopted at today’s General Meeting.

“This feasibility study is the culmination of years of work and provides the direction to look into several renewable energy projects,” Cr Williams said.

“The most significant of these projects is a 1-1.5MW solar farm at Council’s Cleveland wastewater treatment plant, which has the potential to save between $4.4 million and $6.1 million over 20 years.

“We will also look at installing similar “embedded” solar panels at other Council sites that use large amounts of electricity, as well as installing solar panels on several of our community halls.

“Modelling suggests these solar facilities could offset “black” electricity use at these sites by between 21 and 32 per cent, reducing running costs and in doing so reducing the cost to ratepayers.

“Electricity prices have increased by more than 60 per cent between 1990 and 2012 and all the signs are they will continue to rise, so it makes sense to look for ways to reduce our dependency on electricity consumption.”

Cr Williams said while the projects being looked at were small compared with larger plants like the Sunshine Coast it was a way of offsetting energy consumption with reduced risks to ratepayers.

“Council has been looking at several locations for the solar farm and it makes sense to use a site we already own because it will reduce costs considerably,” she said.

“By using Council-owned facilities it means we can look at the long-term viability of larger solar facilities without having to buy large parcels of land like the Sunshine Coast Council has.

The feasibility study originated from a request from Division 9 Councillor Paul Gleeson who tabled a motion last year asking Council to investigate a local solar farm.

“It has grown from there to include not only a solar farm but also more localised small scale solar options,” Cr Gleeson said.

“We will also look at the possibility of local solar sites not only offsetting electricity use but also potentially generating power in the future, which can then be sold to generate revenue.

“Today’s decision is very exciting for the community and is an example of our commitment to constant improvement and looking for ways to reduce costs for ratepayers.

“The next step will be for a business case to be put to Council identifying the final sites, costs and timeframes for construction.

“Council will then undertake a procurement process before proceeding to the first project which will be a trial at a Council facility such as the South Street Depot or Animal Shelter, to test the concept before we progress to a larger project.”