The first solar panel table was put into place today on the Sunshine Coast Solar farm at Valdora as reported by ABC News.
The energy from the large-scale solar farm being built in Queensland will provide all the electricity for Sunshine Coast Council infrastructure when it is completed mid-next year. It will be the country’s first large-scale solar farm managed by a local government.
Sunshine Coast Council mayor Mark Jamieson said the $50 million project will save ratepayers more than $22 million after cost over the next 30 years. The 15 megawatts energy that will be produced will be an offset for all of the council’s energy use within the Sunshine Coast Area.
57,000 panels will be installed across 24 hectares of a 49-hectare site and it will be Queensland’s biggest solar farm and the 5th largest in Australia.
The Council tried unsuccessfully to get Federal Government funding to assist with the costs, but pushed ahead with the project anyway which showed the Council’s commitment to renewables and clean energy.
The mayor said once the plant is constructed, the farm will be low maintenance, with the exception of some sheep possibly calling it home. The sheep or llamas will keep the grass down and can live comfortably under the panels.
Also, this is not the first solar farm to bring in animals to help with the maintenance costs. The University of Queensland brought in 10 sheep to maintain their11-hectare solar research facility at Gatton. The university used to pay $50,000 every year to mow and maintain the grass on the solar site.
Mayor Jamieson said that the large Valdora site is well suited for its flat terrain and proximity to a 33kV power line. To lessen the risk, the panels will be installed around four metres off the ground. He also said that other concerns like reflection, hail and impact on wildlife had also been considered.
In the recent statewide blackout in South Australia, he said a similar occurrence would not be a reality because the power to council’s infrastructure would be supplied from the solar farm, via the grid.
Featured Image Credit: ABC News