Building begins on City's solar farm

13 Nov 2018

Construction on the region's biggest solar farm has begun after Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes turned the first sod today on a disused landfill site at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre facility.

The City of Newcastle's single largest investment in a renewable energy project follows eight other solar installations at its Waratah Works Depot , Art Gallery, City, Wallsend and New Lambton libraries, No.1 and No.2 Sportsgrounds and Newcastle Museum.

Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Deputy Mayor Declan Clausen turn the furst sod at the solar farm
The five-megawatt solar farm will increase the City's renewable energy generation capacity tenfold and save rate payers around $9 million over its 25-year lifespan.

"Today's sod turning is a major milestone for this City and another exciting step forward in the delivery of renewable energy for our region," the Lord Mayor said from Summerhill today.

"The solar farm will produce enough energy to run the equivalent of all the City of Newcastle's facilities during the day, which represents significant environmental returns for ratepayers and millions of dollars in savings."

Covering an area of around five football fields on a capped landfill once part of the Wallsend Borehole Colliery, the solar farm's 14,500 photovoltaic solar arrays will help dramatically reduce the city's $4m annual electricity bill.

The City of Newcastle secured a $6.5 million loan from Australia's Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to help build the farm, which will comprise solar panels and infrastructure built by international property and infrastructure group Lendlease and EMC.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, Program Coordinator Adam Clarke, Climate Council representative Cassie Brenmer and Deputy Mayor Declan Clausen
The new facility builds on one of Australia's most advanced renewable energy setups at a waste facility -- with a 2.2megawatt landfill gas generator and a small wind turbine already located at Summerhill.

The solar farm and the other rooftop installations already installed by the City are part of actions endorsed by the Cities Power Partnership, a Climate Council program in which cities and towns pledge key actions to reduce their climate impact.

"We are building sustainability into everything we do after reiterating our commitment last year to generate 30 per cent of our electricity needs from low-carbon sources and cut overall electricity usage by 30 per cent by 2020," Cr Nelmes said.