Over 100 sun lovers stood in the rain yesterday to celebrate Lismore Community Solar and the long awaited launch of Australia’s largest floating solar farm at the East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant.
The Lismore Community Solar initiative is a partnership between Lismore City Council and community solar energy facilitator Farming the Sun, to break new ground in working with communities to fund renewable energy projects that power Council facilities.
As part of the initiative, Council has built two 100kW solar farms – a rooftop solar farm at Goonellabah Sports & Aquatic Centre which has been operating since March 2017 and now the floating solar farm.
The NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy Ben Franklin MLC joined the Climate Council and Lismore City Council to launch the community-backed renewable energy system including the floating solar array which is a first for NSW.
The rooftop solar farm is now providing 15% of the aquatic centre’s power requirements while the floating solar farm’s 280 solar panels generate 12% of the East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant’s energy requirements. Together the systems will generate over 316 megawatt hours of power annually.
Both solar farms were funded by companies made up of 20 local investors, with the funds loaned to council under a financial model that is the first of its kind in Australia.
‘It has already generated interest both nationally and internationally as a model for government and community cooperation, with investors receiving a return better than that of a bank,’ said Lismore City Council’s Environmental Strategies Officer Sharyn Hunnisett.
‘The project has not been without its challenges to establish and get operational, but now that we have done the hard work we have a model others can emulate.
‘We hope to see renewable energy projects like this taken up between councils and communities right across Australia, whether that’s using sun, wind or wave technology.’