Sunshine Coast Council To Go Solar

Queensland’s Sunshine Coast Council is planning to build a solar farm that would supply half of its electricity needs.
Mayor Mark Jamieson says it would be the first council in Australia to have a utility scale solar farm constructed. 
“The $24-30m solar farm proposed to be built at Valdora near Coolum would meet half of council’s electricity needs for at least the next 30 years,” he said. “Over the next three decades council is expected to pay in excess of $110m for electricity, and the solar farm would have the potential to reduce that by many millions of dollars.”
Council believes it will save around $10 million over the expected life of the project.
The solar farm project would inject $10 million into the local economy over the next 10 years and create 40 jobs during construction.
One of the reasons Sunshine Coast Council believes now is the right time to invest is energy contract re-negotiation with current retailers is due in 2014. It also recognises solar panel prices are currently very low; something that could change given fluctuations in the Australian dollar and other factors.
The solar farm would help develop the Sunshine Coast’s cleantech industry hub and skills developed during construction could be deployed to similar projects within Queensland and elsewhere in Australia; helping to further diversify the local economy.
“This project has the potential to transform the Sunshine Coast. It would become the embodiment of everything we stand for; a region which is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable,” said Councillor Mark Jamieson. “It would save money, reduce our carbon footprint and take us another step closer to becoming the most sustainable region in Australia”
Council will call for Expressions of Interest to design and build the solar farm in the next few weeks and hopes construction will commence in 2014.