Newcastle City Council’s Summerhill Waste Management Centre is transforming into a renewable energy hub with a 5MW solar farm being built alongside a 2.2 MW landfill gas generator and small wind turbine.
Together with eight solar installations on the rooftops of the council’s public buildings, energy-efficient LED lighting, electric-vehicle chargers and cycling infrastructure, the solar farm will generate savings by reducing the council’s reliance on fossil fuels.
It will also help Newcastle fulfil its Cities Power Partnership pledge to reduce its climate impact, while paving the way for future battery storage and electric garbage trucks.
The solar farm is making good use of a capped landfill site that was once part of the Wallsend Borehole Colliery. It is expected to be operational by the end of 2018 and supply more than half the council’s annual energy needs.
The 14,500-panel solar farm is expected to generate close to 7GWh a year and reduce council’s carbon emissions by more than 6,400 tonnes annually.
The Newcastle City Project is being designed and built by international property and infrastructure group Lendlease and renewable energy specialists Energy Made Clean (EMC).
The council has borrowed $6.5 million from the CEFC to help finance the solar farm, which is expected to save the council around $9 million over the life of the facility, once construction and operational costs have been factored in.
This project is an example of the CEFC’s investments through its Sustainable Cities Investment Program that aims to invest $1 billion over 10 years in clean energy and energy efficient technology solutions in cities and the built environment.
The CEFC is financing the project as part of the tailored Local Government Finance Program, which provides tailored finance to suit the needs of councils looking to reduce their energy costs and carbon emissions.