Newcastle council solar power projects generating big savings

Under the sun: The 64-panel solar photovoltaic system that has been installed at No.2 Sports ground, Newcastle West. It saves about $16,000 a year in electricity costs.

Under the sun: The 64-panel solar photovoltaic system that has been installed at No.2 Sports ground, Newcastle West. It saves about $16,000 a year in electricity costs.

NEWCASTLE ratepayers are saving an estimated $120,000 a year from a suite of solar energy installations that are driving down the city’s dependence on fossil fuel-based energy.

The council’s Waratah works department, No.1 and No.2 sports grounds, the city’s art gallery and library and Wallsend and New Lambton libraries are among the facilities that have switched on to solar since 2013. They now have a combined output of about 500,000 kilowatt hours of renewable energy a year. 

Work is due to start on a solar photovoltaic at Newcastle museum next month that will add to the annual savings. 

The No. 2 sports ground solar system was switched on last November and is offsetting grid-generated electricity used during sports events. 

“It will not only generate an estimated 30,000 kilowatt hours of energy a year, but it is anticipated to save council more than $16,000 a year in electricity and associated costs,” Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“Plans are also being made to include battery storage which will further reduce the cost of running the sporting lights at night.” 

Council also recently flicked the switch on a 39 panel system at New Lambton Library. 

The 9.9 kilowatt system generates about 14,300 kilowatt hours of energy annually, which equates to an annual saving of $4000.

It will be used to offset 40 per cent of the grid-generated electricity used by the library for its lighting, air-conditioning, computers and other equipment. 

The projects form part of Newcastle City Council’s 2020 carbon and water management action plan.

Released in 2011, the plan  focuses on achieving water and carbon reductions across the local government, residential, education and business sectors.  It also aims to take advantage of significant clean energy technology advances.

The plan’s targets include drawing 30 per cent of the city’s electricity from low-carbon sources by the end of the decade.

“The museum solar PV installation will bring council generation to around five per cent with more projects currently in the feasibility stage over the next 4 years to bring us closer to our ambitious project,” councillor Nelmes said. 

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