The Tathra Community Solar Farm – a joint project between CEFE and Bega Valley Shire Council project has been highly commended in the NSW Local Government Awards for Excellence in Environmental Leadership and Sustainability announced on 12 April 2016
Tathra Community Solar Farm – IMAGINE generating clean and green, renewable power!
The TCSF is a 30kW solar photovoltaic installation at the Tathra Sewerage Treatment Plant. It consists of 120 pollycrystalline 250W Trina solar panels and two 15 kW Fronius Symo 3 phase inverters grid connected. The panel elevation ange is 15 degrees.
In 2014 Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC) formed a partnership with CEFE to develop one of Australia’s first community solar farms. Through organising multiple events and broader community engagement, CEFE has raised money over many years for local community organisations (e.g. RFS fire sheds, community halls, churches, surf clubs, preschools and a tourist venue) to install solar PV. To further this work CEFE approached Council to develop a joint venture which could be a beacon to other communities around Australia for climate change action. By combining passion and expertise, the Tathra Community Solar Farm project was conceived, built and opened in 2015. The project captures financial savings and reinvests these in other local solar projects – creating a win:win:win for CEFE, Council and the local community.
The project has received fantastic support from the local community and various organisations. Community donors, including local business, helped raise valuable funds for the project, while the Tathra Mountain Bike Enduro event provided significant support and funding to make the project a reality. The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage assisted and Bega Valley Shire Council contributed half of the project cost and project managed the design and construction.
In its first year of operation the savings in electricity costs amounted to $4379 This will be reinvested in further community solar projects.
Australia’s first completed community-owned solar farm is now a reality at Tathra on the NSW far South Coast, helping to power the Tathra treatment plant. The 30kW solar farm is an initiative of community climate action group Clean Energy for Eternity, Inc and consists of 120 panels of 250W capacity arranged to form the letters of IMAGINE. It is clearly visible from the air on the approach path to Merimbula airport.
The installation is expected to generate an average of 40 MWh annually over its 25 year lifetime.
It will be officially opened on Tuesday, March 24 at 10.00am. As CEFE President Dr Matthew Nott explained:
“In 2006 over 3,000 Bega Valley residents formed an IMAGINE human sign on Tathra Beach.”
“Shortly after CEFE was formed and adopted its 50/50 by 2020 target as an aspiration for local communities like Tathra. That is, 50% reduction in energy consumption and 50% renewable by 2020.”
“A local solar farm was seen as key strategy for reaching that goal, along with solar bulk buy programs and putting solar PV on community buildings”
“We are proud of what we have achieved in our local area over the last eight years– over 30 surf clubs, RFS sheds and community buildings now equipped with solar PV.” “And now, finally, we have our IMAGINE solar farm.” Continue reading IMAGINE…and we did!→
The Tathra IMAGINE solar farm project gets underway this week. What a combined effort from the local community, The Tathra Enduro Mountain Bike Race and the Bega Valley Shire Council ! We aim to have the project complete by the June long weekend 2015 Tathra Enduro. We still have to find money for the final two letters of IMAGINE, and would love to hear from anyone interested in purchasing some panels.
TATHRA’S community solar farm has turned from imagination in to reality.(BDN 12/4/2014)
At the official launch on Saturday morning, Matthew Nott from Clean Energy for Eternity and Bega Valley Shire Council general manager Leanne Barnes signed a memorandum of understanding, sealing the deal for a large solar array to be installed at the Tathra Treatment Plant.
The solar panels will spell IMAGINE when seen from the air by passengers aboard flights into Merimbula.
When complete, the solar farm will produce up to 50kW and account for 50 per cent of the power needs of the sewage treatment plant, which the council said costs around $50,000 a year to run.
Panels for the IMAGINE solar array – each letter will comprise about 38 panels – can be purchased by individuals, businesses and community groups for $250 each.
Mr Nott was pleased to announce the “I” had already been sold only three weeks after their sale was publicised.
He expected a tender to go out at the end of May and construction to begin in July.
All being well – and if the panels continue selling to community members as quickly as they have been – the IMAGINE solar farm should be operational by the end of the year, but “certainly in time for next year’s Enduro”.
The community solar farm is a joint project between CEFE, BVSC, the Bega Aboriginal Lands Council and the Tathra Mountain Bike Club, which puts on the Enduro each year to raise money for renewable energy projects in the community.
There are now plans to consider similar solar power projects at each of the shire’s other three treatment plants in Bega, Merimbula and Eden.