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!→
About 80 people attended a Q&A session organised by CEFE Northern Beaches at the Narrabeen Tram Shed on March 9 2015. Upper house candidate Justin Field represented the Greens, James Wheeldon, candidate for the seat of North Shore represented the ALP and Rob Stokes Minister for the Environment represented the Coalition. CEFE’s John Davis moderated. The questions came from CEFE members and other local environmental groups. They were given to the panel members in advance and each had the same time to answer.
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.
Last week solar panels were installed on the Tarraganda Rural Fire Service shed. It is the seventh fire shed in SE NSW to be set up with solar panels. The panels were funded as a result of a recent Pyramid Power bulk buy deal, and proceeds from the last two CEFE Bega River Big Swim’s.
Clean Energy For Eternity will endeavor to assist all 200 Fire Sheds in NSW get solar panels on their roof-tops by 2020.
The Tarraganda RFS are actively looking for new members.
The Bermagui Rural Fire Service brigade is now powered by the sun thanks to the donation of a photovoltaic solar system by Clean Energy for Eternity.
The donation of the solar system by CEFE was officially recognised last week with a plaque attached to the side of the fire shed. Around $3400 was raised during the Bermagui River Big Swim – part of CEFE’s LifeSaving Energy Big Swim series which attracted entries from Tathra, Bega, Bermagui, Canberra and Batemans Bay.
Major sponsors of the swim included the Bermagui Pharmacy and Essential Energy, while swimmers raised funds themselves including Bermagui CEFE member Lynda Cantrill, who collected $350 for completing the 5km swim. The Bermagui RFS brigade themselves got involved taking out fire pumps on boats to give a water spray over the swimmers. The Bermagui Lions Club was also involved on the day.
“We want to thank Clean Energy for Eternity for all their hard work,” captain Greg McLaren said, adding that the solar panels would mean cheaper power bills for the brigade.
The brigade as always is keen to get the word out that it needs new volunteers. Find out more by attending the brigade?s regular training evenings at 7.30pm on the second Wednesday of every month, or call the Bega fire control centre on 6494 7400
SUNSHINE DONATION: Bermagui RFS brigade members Maggie McKinney, Kevin Riley, Derric Wagstaff, Captain Greg ?Macca? McLaren and Rosemary Lewis with Bermagui CEFE co-convenor Prue Kelly, Bermagui Pharmacy?s Marian Manning and CEFE member Lynda Cantrill.
NEW PLAQUE: Captain Greg “Macca” McLaren and Bermagui CEFE co-convenor Prue Kelly with the new plaque
Coastal communities are embracing green change, writes Carolyn Boyd (Sun Herald)
LIVING in a coastal community and having young children has spurred Matthew Nott into action on climate change. The orthopedic surgeon from the tiny community of Tathra on the NSW Far South Coast is the driving force behind a move to introduce clean energy to the Bega Valley.
The movement started out relatively small – raising $20,000 to install a wind turbine and solar panel on the roof of a surf club. But now, under the banner of Clean Energy for Eternity, the group’s aims have grown and Nott says the next step is raising about $8 million to build a community-owned solar energy farm.
The Federal Government has committed $100,000 for a feasibility study into the project and has promised another $1 million.
Nott wants to establish a model other communities can follow. “We want to set ourselves up as a centre of excellence for renewable energy,” he says.
The Tathra community has already won plaudits for caring for the environment. Last year, it beat more than 100 other entrants to win Keep Australia Beautiful’s NSW Clean Beach Challenge.
When the award was announced, judges called Tathra Beach “the pearl of the South Coast”, adding “Tathra has some fantastic community involvement in some great environmental outcomes, including the dune restoration and bush regeneration, which has taken place right along Tathra Beach”.
The median house price in Tathra is $375,000. Property available ranges from a basic three-bedroom house for $265,000 to a 19-hectare eco-getaway with an innovative, two-bedroom, corrugated iron home that runs on solar power and has a separate studio with bathroom. The asking price is $1.38 million.
Real estate agent at Marshall and Tacheci, Robert Tacheci, says the stretch of coast between Bermagui and Tathra is attractive because it has a raw beauty and is home to a community that is environmentally conscious and has diverse cultural interests, including art and music.
“I think the community goes with the area,” he says. “That you’ll find the people who’ll go for the area tend to have that taste because it’s one of the last little unspoilt bits [along the coast].
“If you were to follow the Princes Highway up and down the coast from Sydney to Melbourne, you’ve actually got this little bit that was somehow bypassed. That seems to have left an area that people are really drawn to for that reason.”
Further north, at Batemans Bay, the local Coastwatchers Association successfully pushed for the 85,000-hectare Batemans Marine Park, where the commercial fishing practices of trawling, long-lining and dredging are banned.
The group’s next campaign is convincing government and landholders that the region’s forests should not be woodchipped.
In Batemans Bay, the median price of houses is $312,500 and as the economic downturn bites, many properties on the market are subject to substantial discounting.
Coastwatchers president Mark Flemming says he is not opposed to development but would rather housing was built on already degraded farming land set hundreds of metres back from the water and off coastal dunes.
Flemming welcomes moves by developers to recognise better environmental principles in housing design.
“There’s no doubt that using intelligent design at subdivision stage is a really good idea,” he says.
“We think a subdivision should be designed so that those sort of issues can be taken into account, [including] north-facing blocks.”
The Tathra Surf Club’s switch to renewable energy in 2006 received great support from the community of this town on the NSW south coast. The wind turbine and solar panels installed on the roof save the surf club nearly $1000 per year in energy costs, are a highly visible demonstration of how renewable energy works and save our atmosphere about three tonnes of CO2 each year.
The installation was part of the LifeSaving Energy campaign by Clean Energy for Eternity, a community group on the NSW south coast.
According to Matthew Nott, spokesperson for Clean Energy for Eternity, the project received a lot of positive feedback. “What this project has done is show people how easy it is to install renewable energy onto a rooftop. The technology is ready to go and the equipment was installed quickly and easily.”
In fact, the project went so well that Matthew started thinking of an ambitious campaign – to switch every surf club in Australia to renewable energy.
“It makes for a strong statement – 305 surf clubs in Australia set up with renewable energy,” says Matthew, “And I wonder how many surf clubs there are on the planet?”
Clean Energy For Eternity first plans to switch all seven surf clubs in south east NSW to renewables by the end of 2008, before going national with the LifeSaving Energy campaign.
To raise money for the project, Matthew’s team started the LifeSaving Energy Big Swim, a series of 7-kilometre swims around south east NSW. The first Big Swim across Lake Jindabyne raised $20,000, just enough to install 2kw solar panels and a 400w wind turbine on Jindabyne surf club.
More Big Swim fundraisers will be held throughout 2008 in NSW, each linked to one lucky surf club. A Big Swim in the Bega River is even raising money for a wind turbine for Tathra Primary School (“This 7-kilometre swim is on the June long weekend in water that may be as cold as 10 degrees!”)
And Matthew has much bigger ideas in the pipeline.
“I am looking forward to working with Surf Life Saving Australia to set up a national LifeSaving Energy Big Swim, with surf clubs in each state holding a Big Swim on the same day to raise money for surf clubs. That will have some impact.