Lismore Floating Solar Farm Switched On

Last year we wrote about Australia’s first floating solar farm being installed and set up in Lismore – today we are proud to announce that the East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant launched the Lismore Floating Solar Farm yesterday morning.

According to the Northern Star, the 100kW  floating solar panels installed by the council above a wastewater lagoon in East Lismore will form a cornerstone of the council solar plan. They are one of 70 councils across Australia, which represent almost a third of the country’s population (7.5 million people), who have signed a pledge to take action on climate change by attempting to reduce or completely eradicate their carbon footprint / fossil fuel usage. An example of this is the recent Mackay Council Solar Tender, where they have voted to invite tenders from shortlisted respondents for the installation of PV solar at 20 council sites in Mackay. 

Lismore Floating Solar Farm Switched On (source: farmingthesun.net)
Lismore Floating Solar Farm Switched On (source: farmingthesun.net)

The Lismore floating solar farm is one of many measures the Lismore City Council has put in place as per its Renewable Energy Master Plan. They have set themselves the  target of generating all required electricity via renewable sources by 2023, which makes them the first regional council in Australia to commit to making its electricity supply 100% renewable. 

RenewEconomy are reporting quotes from a couple of locals:

“This is an historic occasion for Lismore. We have demonstrated that you can collaborate with your community and provide renewable energy solutions for a regional city,” Lismore Mayor Isaac Smith said.

Ben Franklin, the local National Party MP, was similarly pleased: 

“It shows the community is passionate about renewable energy, and that is will put money where their mouth is. This is the future, and today in Lismore we are part of it.”

The Lismore plant joins a growing trend of floating solar energy, such as the 40MW floating PV solar plant in Huainan, China, which will be built and operated byu the Sungrow Power Supply over a lake on a collapsed coal mine. 

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SA Water aim for zero net electricity by 2020

As part of their ongoing goal of achieving zero net electricity usage by 2020, SA Water installed 100kW of solar photovoltaic (PV) and a 50kWh battery storage system in late December and expect the system to be commissioned in January. They also announced that they will spend $10 million on 6MW of rooftop solar PV across their operations, with the first installations expected to begin in the Q1 2019. 

SA Water 

Their $500,000 pilot 100kW solar 50kWh battery storage project is currently being finalised at the SA Water Crystal Brook workshop – and should be live this month. They’re planning on cutting their bill from $55 million for last financial year to $0 in 2020 by installing up to 6MW of solar panels across its myriad metropolitan sites. 

“We’ve already been reducing our electricity costs by more than $3 million a year since 2013, so we know that with a concerted push, our goal is ambitious, but within reach,” CEO Roch Cheroux told One Step Off the Grid via email.

“By increasing our renewable energy generation and storage, driving energy efficiencies and making smart decisions around our electricity usage and procurement, we aim to reduce our net electricity costs from $55 million in 2016/17 to $0 in 2020,” Mr Cheroux continued.

SA Water serves 1.6 million people across South Australia and is one of the single largest electricity users in the whole state, so for them to aim to be energy neutral by 2020 is a massive undertaking and will be a fantastic step forward for renewable energy in South Australia, which is already paving the way for the other states. 

According to RenewEconomy, pilot programs earmarked for the future include floating solar, silicon thermal storage, and flywheel mechanical battery storage systems. 

SA Water - Silicon Thermal Energy Storage Trial
SA Water – Silicon Thermal Energy Storage Trial at Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant (source: SA Water Facebook Page)

“As there is very little experience in the market of a large utility such as SA Water using a combination of battery and solar storage across multiple sites, it’s important to verify the financial benefits and increase our understanding of its capabilities”, Mr Cheroux told a press conference – you can watch it below. 

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Floating Solar Farm in Lismore – Australia’s First

A floating solar farm has been installed in Lismore, northern New South Wales – it’s Australia’s first foray into floating solar and the Lismore City Council are hoping to have construction completed today. It should be fully functional by mid-December.

Floating Solar Farm

Floating Solar Farm in Lismore
Floating Solar Farm in Lismore (source: farmingthesun.net)

The 100kw floating solar farm, located at the Lismore City Council sewage plant, will be constructed by Suntrix and will be capable of generating around 12% of the power required by the sewage plant. 

“This particular pontoon will be floating by tomorrow, which is really exciting but the aim is to have it all connected and up and running by mid-December,” Lismore City Council’s Environmental Strategies Officer Sharyn Hunnisett said. Ms. Hunnisett also noted that this is merely the first step in Lismore City Council’s plan to power their sewage plant via renewable energy – telling the Northern Star that they are hoping to upgrade and expand the plant over the next six months. 

“We will have to do our calculations but we are hoping a minimum of 400kw in the future,” Ms. Hunnisett said.

Chief Project Officer, Geoff Fussell from Suntrix, said that the solar farm could power around 20 homes and will consist of 280 solar panels. He also told the ABC about the importance of building the farm so that it’s able to mitigate floods – “The panel island will float at the level of the water table but allows for 12 metres height expansion in heavy rains,” he said. “The solar panel anchors can withstand floods.”

The Lismore floating solar farm is one of many measures the Lismore City Council has put in place as per its Renewable Energy Master Plan. They have set themselves the ambitious and admirable target of generating all required electricity via renewable sources by 2023. This makes them the first regional council in Australia to commit to making its electricity supply 100% renewable. 

Solar power in Lismore is gaining a lot of traction recently, with Farming the Sun and Lismore City Council working in tandem on the floating solar farm, and also the construction of a 99kW rooftop PV solar system on top of the Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre. The Rainbow Power Company, based in Nimbin, was responsible for the build at the Aquatic Centre. 

 

 

 

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Floating Solar Energy Farm in China

A traditional ‘coal city’ in Huainan, in China’s eastern Anhui province, has launched the biggest floating solar energy plant. Ironically enough, it’s floating on a lake over a collapsed coal mine.

Floating Solar Technology

Floating Solar Energy Farm in China
Floating Solar Energy Farm in China (source: sungrowpower.com)

The floating PV solar plant in Huainan will be operated by Sungrow Power Supply and can generate 40MW – enough to power 15,000 homes. This is double as much as the previous biggest floating power plant, which was located in the same province and manufactured by Xinyi Solar last year. Floating solar has myriad benefits including the fact that the water can cool down the solar panels (funnily enough overheating solar panels is a big problem so this proves a neat way of mitigating the issue). It’s also better to build the floating solar plants on manmade lakes as they are not ecologically sensitive, according to The Guardian. These manmade lakes can be left behind as a result of intensive strip mining so it is also a somewhat poetic way to watch the world transfer to ecologically friendly renewable energy without compromising any ecology.

Solar Power in China

Although this floating solar farm is certainly an impressive feat, when compared to China’s land based solar it is quite small. The Longyangxia Dam Solar Park produces a Brobdingnagian 850MW via 4 million solar panels, and this is set to be shown up by a 2GW (2000MW) project in the Ningxia Autonomous Region which will have 6 million solar panels and commenced phase 1 of construction in 2013. When completed, it will cover 4,607 hectares and will cost $2.34billion USD ($3.11b AUD).

The park is now almost the size of Macau, according to NASA – have a look at the images below to see its transformation from 2013 – 2017.

Hopefully energy storage in Australia can start thinking big like China – we have huge areas of unused space that would be perfect for a massive project like this.

Longyangxia Dam Solar Park Progress - 2013 (source: NASA)
Longyangxia Dam Solar Park Progress – 2013 (source: NASA)
Longyangxia Dam Solar Park
Longyangxia Dam Solar Park Progress – 2017 (source: NASA)

 

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