Sunshine Coast Council is Australia’s first local government to offset its entire electricity consumption across all its facilities and operations from renewable energy generated at the 15MW Sunshine Coast Solar Farm.
This includes administration buildings, aquatic centres, community and performance venues, as well as holiday parks, libraries, art galleries and sporting facilities. The Solar Farm will provide $22 million in savings, after costs, over a 30-year period based on today’s electricity costs, which are anticipated to increase substantially in the future.
Council is striving to become Australia’s most sustainable region and the Sunshine Coast Solar Farm is part of its plan to achieve that vision.
In its first year of operation, the solar farm has received five prestigious awards:
LGMA Queensland 2018 Awards for Excellence – Sustainability category winner
LG Professionals Federation Awards – Environment and Sustainability Award
National Awards for Local Government – Boosting productivity through infrastructure award
PIA 2017 Awards for Planning Excellence (Queensland) – Wendy Chadwick Encouragement Award
Australian Regional Development Awards 2018 – Environment and Sustainability Award
The Sunshine Coast Solar Farm is located at 909 Yandina-Coolum Road, Valdora. It sits on 24 hectares of a 49 hectare site.
The characteristics of the site are that it:
- is adjacent to Energex’s 33kV power line which is capable of receiving the solar farm’s power output
- is flat and large enough to develop a scale of solar farm which can generate a reliable output to match council’s annual power needs
- has the optimum solar perspective with no shading, is located away from urban areas and provides limited impacts on the surrounding rural community
- is a complimentary use to agricultural production.
- Downer Utilities Australia has been contracted to design, construct, operate and maintain the solar farm.
- Energex is the distribution network service provider that built the 33 kV switchyard which enables the solar farm to connect to the electricity grid.
- Diamond Energy is the electricity retailer that buys and sells electricity for council.
Diamond Energy and Energex have coordinated registration of the solar farm with the Australian Energy Market Operator and Diamond Energy will be the financially responsible market participant for electricity trading in the National Electricity Market. The solar farm is accredited under the Large-scale Renewable Energy Target administered by the Clean Energy Regulator.
Design, construction and commissioning
- Downer was engaged in early 2016 with the design phase taking about six months. Construction began in August 2016 and was completed in May 2017.
- Construction of the switchyard occurred in parallel and was completed in March with commissioning in April 2017.
During this phase, Energex and Downer tested the electricity generated by the Solar Farm to ensure it can be injected into the power lines safely and within specific limits dictated by the National Electricity Rules.
The following provides more information on the Sunshine Coast Solar Farm Project: