In 2009 as part of the Central Victoria Solar City project, SRA lead the charge in the development of medium-scale renewable energy technology in Bendigo and Ballarat with the construction of two 300kW solar parks. The project developed these parks as part of its mission to test new approaches in local, medium-scale solar provision. They were Victoria’s first ground mounted, flat plate and grid-connected solar installations.
The parks each produce approximately 450 megawatt hours of accredited GreenPower each year. 450 megawatt hours equates to switching on 4.5 million 100 watt light-bulbs simultaneously for an hour or providing enough power to run more than 1000 domestic fridges. This solar electricity is pumped back into the main electricity grid and goes towards reducing Australia’s reliance on non-renewable energy.
Click here to Download the Solar Park Fact Sheet.
How Do You Construct a Solar Park?
As part of this project SRA found there are a number of current barriers to the uptake of community owned, medium scale solar parks including:
- The cost of building the asset
- Current income available to small scale generators
- Technical issues with tracking systems and inverters
- The lack of a cost effective storage solution (see CVSC Annual Report 2011-2012) and
- The inability of the generator to sell the electricity generated directly to local customers.
- The need for the generator to sell electricity to a retailer, who on-sells the product to customers.
At the same time, however, this project demonstrated that a small organisation, owned by a not-for-profit greenhouse alliance of regional municipalities, climate action groups and businesses, with help from an energy retailer and network provider, could locate sites, negotiate with councils, prepare contracts, partner, build and commission medium scale assets, register for GreenPower, register energy generator sites, create and transfer large scale generation certificates.
Tracking Panels at Ballarat Solar Park Community Tour at the Bendigo Solar Park
There is a groundswell of support for the concept of community owned renewable energy power stations. Hundreds of visitors have passed through the gates to the solar parks, providing inspiration and education about how solar energy is generated and the role it might play in Australia’s future energy supply. Having successfully modeled this ‘plan, build and generate’ process through the Bendigo and Ballarat Solar Parks, SRA is now working with a number of small Central Victorian communities on their own journeys to build their own local, renewable energy assets.