A university in southern NSW has installed what it says is Australia’s largest rooftop solar power system so far.
Charles Sturt University (CSU) has switched on a 6,000-panel system at its Wagga Wagga campus, at a cost of $3.2 million.
CSU green manager Edward Maher said it was significant milestone not just for the university, but for the renewable energy industry in Australia.
“What we found was that due to the number of parties looking to finance projects like this, the power savings is worth more than the repayments we’re making on the system,” Mr Maher said.
The system produces 1.77 megawatts of power, roughly the equivalent of powering 400 typical Australian households.
CSU facilities director Steven Butt said the aim was living well in the community.
“Being a university, we feel it’s important that we take active steps in leadership and success in terms of sustainability for the future of the region, the community, and our staff and students,” Mr Butt said.
CSU was declared carbon-neutral in 2016, and expects the solar panels to reduce carbon emissions by a further 2,500 tonnes.
Vice-Chancellor Andrew Vann said it would also cut the university’s electricity needs by 20 per cent.
“This is one step on the journey. We will continue to find ways to reduce our carbon footprint into the future,” Mr Vann said.
Big plans for the region
The Riverina’s high number of cloud-free days, and flat landscape, makes the region a target for solar farm developers.
Currently there are three proposals for multi-million dollar solar farms, including a $62 million solar power plant near Griffith.
“Griffith has an excellent substation based at Yoogali and it has just recently been upgraded over the last few years, so it has sufficient capacity to be able to connect into that site without a great deal of further upgrade,” developer Steve McCall said.
Talks are underway to turn the town of Lockhart into a solar-powered town, completely independent of the grid.