LCC Water and Wastewater manager Matt Torr, LCC Environmental Strategies Officer Sharyn Hunnisett and council consultant Michael Qualmann at East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant where a community funded floating solar project will be placed.
LCC Water and Wastewater manager Matt Torr, LCC Environmental Strategies Officer Sharyn Hunnisett and council consultant Michael Qualmann at East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant where a community funded floating solar project will be placed. Cathy Adams

Floating solar plant powers up Lismore’s clean energy

A FLOATING field of solar panels above a wastewater lagoon in East Lismore could provide the power needed to put the town at the forefront of clean energy innovation in Australia.

Although not the first floating solar plant in the country, the East Lismore Sewerage Treatment Plant's would be the largest.

Lismore City Council put out a tender for the 99.9kW project this week, which would be triple the size and output of Australia's only other floating solar plant, which is in Jamestown, South Australia.

It would also be the first community-owned floating solar plant.

Council environment strategies officer Sharyn Hunnisett said it was an important step towards Lismore City Council's goal to become 100% self-sufficient in electricity from renewable resources by 2023.

She said the sewerage plant was council's highest energy-use site and when the first stage of the floating solar farm project was complete, about 25% of the plant's total energy use would be solar, with plans to expand in the future.

"It's a modular system, so we'll be adding to this over the years and intending to run the whole site off a floating PV solar system," she said.

In additional to resolving space and land-shortage issues, the floating solar farm has the added benefit of cooling from water in the lagoon, which will make the solar panels more efficient.

It will also help alleviate some of the lagoon's algae issues by reducing the amount of sun exposure on the water.

The floating solar farm is part of the Lismore Community Solar project, a joint initiative between the Lismore City Council and Farming the Sun, Australia's largest community solar energy initiative.

Farming the Sun will work by establishing two companies, each with 20 local community investors who lend council the funds to build two solar farms on council-owned infrastructure.

The two companies - Lismore Community Solarfarm (East) and Lismore Community Solarfarm (Goonellabah) - will lend council funds to purchase two 99kW solar systems.

One will be a rooftop solar system at the Goonellabah Sports and Aquatic Centre while the other will be the floating solar system on the tertiary lagoon at the East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant.

Both tenders can be viewed at www.tenderlink.com/lismore.

Farming the Sun is expected to release the company share offers by the end of June.



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