- Last updated:
- 11 Oct 2016
Construction is well underway at the 15 megawatt (MW) Sunshine Coast Solar Farm in Valdora, on track to be operational by mid-2017.
Council will become Australia’s first local government to offset 100 percent of its electricity consumption across all its facilities and operations. This includes administration buildings, aquatic centres, community and performance venues, as well as holiday parks, libraries, art galleries and sporting facilities.
The solar farm will provide $22 million in savings, after costs, over a 30-year period based on today’s electricity costs, which are anticipated to increase substantially in the future.
Council is striving to become Australia’s most sustainable region and the Sunshine Coast Solar Farm is part of a grand plan to achieve that vision.
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Late September update
- First panels installed: The first solar panel table has been lifted into place and secured – a major milestone for the project. Two crews using 100 tonne cranes will install about 25 tables each day. Weather dependent, all tables should be up by Christmas.
Early September update
- Design: is now 100% complete.
- Panels 100% production: The Downer Project Manager has visited Trina Solar in China for a pre-shipment inspection of our solar panels.
During the trip the project manager toured the factory, was run through production process and panel testing, and also visited a solar farm where these panels have been implemented.
- Piles have arrived: The first batch of piles have arrived on site, and are being installed. All up, 105 containers will be received, with 144 piles in each container, totalling 15,256 piles. It takes two minutes to install each pile.
The piles will hold up the structures the solar panels will be attached to. The crew install about 350 piles per day.
- Solar tables and lifting jig: Work is underway on the 20m x 4m aluminium structures or ‘tables’, which will each hold 40 solar panels. Each table is then craned into position on top of the piles and secured.
To ensure this lift is done safely, Downer has worked closely with a local Noosa company to design a lifting jig specific to the project. The jig was recently load tested and it’s now being used to lift the solar tables into place.
|Stage 1 Mid 2016||Stage 2 Late 2016||Stage 3 Early 2017||Stage 4 Mid 2017|
The construction phase of the solar farm is expected to generate up to 60 local jobs.
Once the solar farm is operational, maintenance will be undertaken by the solar contractor.
Downer and council have developed a local industry participation plan to ensure that local businesses and workers are appropriately supported to become involved with the project.
Council hopes to leverage the solar farm to develop a ‘Clean Tech’ hub in the region. This hub provides opportunity to further develop this industry sector, encourage increased external investment in the region, and help drive increased and sustainable employment.
The Sunshine Coast Solar Farm:
- will see council proactively take control of its electricity supply to combat rising electricity costs, which were on average 14% higher in Queensland last financial year
- provide council facilities and operations with renewable electricity and help the Sunshine Coast region transition to clean energy economy
- complement the Sunshine Coast’s 40,000 solar PV rooftops and contribute to the reduction of Australia’s carbon emissions
- deliver $22 million in savings (after costs) for ratepayers from council’s lower electricity costs over the next 30 years.
If you are interested in working at the Sunshine Coast Solar Farm, visit Council’s Business Gateway Page to view a list of roles we require. To register an expression of interest email: SCSFValdoraProject@downergroup.com
A 15 megawatt solar farm is being built on 24 hectares of a 49 hectare site at 909 Yandina-Coolum Road, Valdora.
It will be the fifth largest solar farm in Australia. At its peak, the solar farm will generate 15,000 kilowatts of electricity from the sun into the Energex network. The electricity generated over one year is enough to power about 5000 homes.
During construction, Downer will install more than 57,000 PV (photovoltaic) modules (solar panels), close to 1500 support structures, and six inverter stations as well as a number of civil and structural works. This includes a control room, access track and road widening, and medium voltage (MV) underground lines.
36,000 trees will also be planted to create a 10m wide x 470 metre long green buffer area along the site’s frontage.
Cost: $50.4 million
Impact on ratepayers: No ongoing net cost to ratepayers as the revenue generated by the project will offset any associated costs to build and maintain the farm
Construction: Downer Utilities Australia Pty Ltd will build the solar farm and Energex will build the infrastructure to connect the solar farm to the distribution network.
Energy retailer: Diamond Energy
Council has developed a business case for the solar farm project[640KB] that was independently reviewed by an investment bank and a business advisory firm with experience in the commercialisation of renewable energy technology.
In 2014, council purchased the site at Valdora and lodged a Material Change of Use Development Application which was formally approved in 2015.
In 2016, contract negotiations were finalised and construction is set to begin in September this year.
The project aligns with a range of council policy documents which all underwent extensive community consultation, including input from external expert reference groups:
- Economic Development Strategy
- Climate Change and Peak Oil Strategy
- Energy Transition Plan which specifically includes facilitating large-scale clean energy production and solar power stations as a key action.
Contracts to design, build, operate and maintain the solar farm have been signed between council and Downer Utilities Australia Pty Ltd.
The key components of the solar farm will be supplied by 'tier 1' manufacturers:
- Solar panels manufactured by Trina Solar;
- Centralised inverters manufactured by SMA;
- Panel racking manufactured by Schletter.
Downer Utilities Australia will prepare a “Local Industry Participation Plan” for the project which will seek to maximise participation by local sub-contractors and the sourcing of local materials.
In 2014, Council engaged “Diamond Energy” as its electricity retailer to buy and sell electricity on Council’s behalf in the wholesale electricity market. In choosing Diamond Energy, Council was aware that:
- Diamond Energy has consistently been independently ranked one of the “greenest” electricity retailer’s in Australia
- Diamond Energy proactively supports the implementation of new renewable energy projects in Australia and generates all of their electricity from renewable sources
- Diamond Energy does not invest in or undertake coal seam gas activities and does not support electricity generation from the burning of native forest material.
The project will be located at 909 Yandina-Coolum Road in the locality of Valdora. The solar farm will be constructed on 24 hectares of a 49 hectare site. The characteristics of the site that favour a solar farm are the site:
- is zoned as a suitable site for a renewable energy facility in the Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme 2014 and has received development approval
- is adjacent to Energex’s 33kV power line which is capable of receiving the solar farm’s power output
- is flat and large enough to develop a scale of solar farm which can generate a reliable output to match council’s annual power needs
- is flood prone and presents an engineering challenge which has been met by Downer Utilities Australia. Development approval stipulates that the majority of the solar farm’s components be located at, or above, a height of 3.74m AHD
- has the optimum solar perspective with no shading, is located away from urban areas and provides limited impacts on the surrounding rural community.
The following provides more information on the Sunshine Coast Solar Farm Project:
- Sunshine Coast Solar Farm Project: Business Case Summary[640KB][640KB]
- Frequently Asked Questions[504KB][276KB]
- Fast facts[1239KB][2907KB]
- Artist's impression[82KB][82KB]
For more information, please email council's Solar Farm Project Team firstname.lastname@example.org.