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Savings from the sun stun Nambucca Valley Council

Savings from the sun stun council

Per capita, Australia has the highest rate of solar power-using households in the world.

We also have the highest household uptake of photovoltaic (PV) panels globally.

By the end of July this year, more than 2.49 million rooftop solar power systems had been installed across the nation, with some 287,504 installations in 2019 alone.

2019 was also a record year for the medium-scale solar sector. There is now 403 MW of capacity in commercial and public-owned buildings, representing an increase of more than 700 per cent over the past five years.

The Nambucca Valley Council was one contributor to this year of rapid growth, after installing a 50kW PV system on its admin building early last year, as part of its Renewable Energy Action Plan.

In November the system was officially switched on, and since then, council has used 43,000 kW less fossil-fueled power than this time last year, and reduced carbon emissions from electricity use by a third.

Remarkably, this seemingly small switch to renewable energy has also saved the council nearly $13,000.

"It was actually a little bit better than what we were expecting," council's Technical Officer Development and Environment Lisa Hall said.

At this rate, the $50,000 system, funded from the Environment Levy, will be paid off in under four years - faster than originally anticipated.

And then what we save in electricity gets put back into council so we can provide extra services.

Lisa Hall

With an estimated lifespan of 20 years, and without factoring in future electricity price fluctuations, that means the solar panels will save the council around $240,000 before needing to be replaced.

After the success of this investment, council was keen to see the installation of solar power systems to more of its buildings.

Panels have just finished being placed atop the Macksville Senior Citizens Centre, the Macksville Library, the Bowraville Dam and council's works depot.

Lisa Hall said the four new solar systems cost approximately $33,000 and will all be switched on very soon.

With nearly all of council's short-term goals ticked off in its Renewable Energy Action Plan, plans can soon start on the medium-term goals. They include fitting out solar panels on the council's sewage treatment plants, the Macksville Aquatic Centre, the Nambucca Community and Arts Centre, the Visitor Information Centre and the dump, amongst other initiatives.

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