North coast residents are by now familiar with the average six-panel 1.5-kilowatt solar-energy system on many suburban roofs, but a large roof on the Tweed Coast covered with 266 solar panels outshines them all.
The Cabarita Beach Bowls and Sports Club on the Tweed Coast has just had almost all of its extensive roof converted into a power source, which will save the club a stunning $23,000 a year or 20 per cent of its hefty annual electricity bill.
The outlay in buying the system is expected to be recouped in less than five years, according to installation firm Infinity Solar, which also organised a $36,000 federal government grant to help pay for it.
The array of new shiny solar panels is a sight to behold for locals and renewable-energy pundits, who want more public buildings in the region to follow the club’s lead by switching to solar.
‘It must be one of the largest solar power systems in the area, certainly the largest of which we are aware,’ Infinity Solar owner Norman Phillips told Echonetdaily.
‘Most home solar systems would have around six or 12 panels, whereas this one has 266 panels, making it a 62-kilowatt system,’ Mr Phillips said.
‘New government regulations such as the carbon levy force businesses to search for alternative solutions as electricity prices are predicted to rise by a further 42 per cent in the next three years.’
Mr Phillips said club revenues would not increase at the same levels as power price hikes, which was why the Cabarita club decided to install the solar system.
Club manager Nick Brabham is proud to say his club is at the foreferont in the industry in moving toward sustainability, and the solar-panel project is only the latest project to achieve that goal.
‘We have nine worm farms completely built from recycled materials such as corrugated iron, star pickets, old bathtubs, it may not look prettty but it does the job, we get worm castings and worm wee from them to fertilise our plantings,’ Nick told Echonetdaily.
‘We also have two 25,000-litre water tanks for rain and bore water for our greens as we try to be as efficient as we can.
‘Our head greenkeeper Dave Perez last year won NSW Greenkeeper of the Year for his innovative composting system he’s developing. Before, our composting system could only take plant material for the worms but this new system allows us to compost other material from the kitchen such as chicken bones, napkins and table scraps.
‘We’ve also just planted our own orchard to be self sufficient in limes and lemons and some coffee trees so hopefully we can produce chocolate-coated beans to sell to customers.’
The club, which has almost 5,000 members, celebrates its 50th anniversary next year.