Tathra Community Solar Farm

Since adopting 50/50 by 2020 in 2006 CEFE has always believed that local solar farms were going to be one of the key mechanisms for achieving its goal. In 2008 an extensive feasibility study led by Andrew Bond and Deborah Burt and funded by a federal government Green Precincts grant identified a number of potential sites in the Bega Valley and came up with a replicable model but was deemed by the government at the time of being too reliant on government subsidies. A second proposal involving a collaboration with Eurobodalla Council for a solar farm to supply one of its water treatment plant was then submitted for Green Precincts funding. It made it to the short list but was not successful in the final round.

Fast forward to 2014. Solar PV prices have dropped dramatically and CEFE made an approach to Bega Valley Shire Council to explore whether their might be mutual benefit in establishing a solar farm to supply the Tathra Treatment works. A committee consisting of Daniel Murphy from BVSC and David Neyle, Derek Povel, John Seckold , Matthew Nott and Prue Kelly from CEFE set about the task of making it happen. Prue Kelly volunteered to be project manager for CEFE. A launch was held on site in April 2014

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30 kW turned out to be the capacity that was needed to supply the treatment works demand and BVSC agreed to allow the farm to be built on the Treatment works site. Since the original IMAGINE human sign on Tathra beach in 2006, it had always been the vision of CEFE that the solar farm should have high public visibility and and spell out the words IMAGINE. The treatment works site turned out to have enough space to make this dream come true with the high visibility being from the air on the approach to Merimbula airport.

But how was the solar farm to be paid for? One source was a proportion of the proceeds of the Tathra Enduro mountain bike race which CEFE had helped pioneer in 2012. The other source was a a public appeal to the Tathra community and beyond to donate a proportion of the cost of a panel. The donations were tax deductible. Panel donations came flooding in. Then BVSC agreed to match the $25,000 that CEFE had raised at that point, and then NSW Office of Environment and Heritage chipped in $5000.

Given the enthusiastic response BVSC put out a call for tenders to undertake the construction and took on project management. Construction started in February 2015 an was completed in early March. By then all 120 panels that formed the letters IMAGINE had a donors name attached.

It is expected the farm will generate almost 40 MWh per annum. BVSC will own the installation but CEFE members will regullarly clean the panels. BVSC will pass on to CEFE the savings it has made on electricity charges until CEFE’s contribution has been paid off. CEFE will use the revenue so generated to make more installations on community buildings or perhaps even create a second solar farm in the Bega Valley

Click here to see the sponsors and donors

If you would like to donate a panel click here

Click here to go to the data logger to see how much power is being produced now and how much energy has been produced so far

You can read posts about the IMAGINE Solar farm below