Australia’s first floating solar farm will take to the water in the Lismore this week.
The farm will float on the surface of an overflow pond at the East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant and its generated electricity used to partially power the plant.
The project is a joint effort by Lismore City Council, investors, and the community.
Potential to expand
The solar farm will initially produce almost 180,000 kilowatts of electricity annually, using a 100-kilowatt system and will account for about 12 per cent of the plant’s energy needs.
The council’s environmental strategies officer, Sharyn Hunnisett, said there was potential to expand to solar farm.
“We hope to generate the whole site’s electricity in the future,” she said.
“This plant is one of our highest-use sites so we wanted to find a way to generate renewable energy and we didn’t have the land, so we decided on the pond.
“The cooling properties of water also help the solar panels last longer and perform better, while increased shade over the pond reduces evaporation and algal growth.
“The floating solar farm will save the council a lot of money and it will also help us reach our renewable energy target.”
Solar panels will withstand floods
Chief project officer, Geoff Fussell, said it was important the 280 floating panels could survive floods.
“The panel island will float at the level of the water table but allows for 12 metres height expansion in heavy rains,” he said.
“The solar panel anchors can withstand floods.”
There will be walkways on the floating island to allow maintenance workers to keep the solar panels clean.
“There will always be two workers for safety reasons,” Mr Fussell said.
The floating solar farm is one of many measures in the council’s Renewable Energy Master Plan to achieve the goal of self-generating all its electricity from renewable sources by 2023.