Floating plans for solar

Article image - Floating plans for solar An example of a floating solar farm.

As part of its innovative Lismore Community Solar project, Lismore City Council is gearing up to build the first floating solar farm in New South Wales.

The project is a collaboration with Farming the Sun, Australia’s largest community solar energy initiative, which will see ‘mum and dad’ investors lending Council money to harness renewable energy.
Farming the Sun will establish two companies, each made up of 20 investors, which will lend Council funds to install two 99kW solar systems.

A rooftop solar system will be installed at the local aquatic centre and a floating solar system will be implemented on a tertiary pond at one of Council’s sewage treatment plants.

“This is innovation at its best and once again Lismore and the Northern Rivers more broadly is leading the way in utilising and promoting renewable energy,” said Lismore City Council’s Environmental Strategies Officer Sharyn Hunnisett.

“This will be Australia’s first council-community solar farm and we believe the second only floating solar system being commercially used within Australia. It is certainly a first for a council in New South Wales.”

Hunnisett said floating solar is already being used internationally, but is only now finding its way to Australia. She said the idea for a floating system in Lismore was born from necessity.

“It basically came about because of spatial concerns. We simply didn’t have enough roof or land space at the East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant.

“Then it hit us – we have all this space on the water; why not use that?”

The tertiary pond at the East Lismore Sewage Treatment Plant provides a large body of water with low velocity, perfect for a floating solar farm.

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.

Tenders for the two solar systems were released in May. Farming the Sun is expected to release a company share offer for the solar farms by the end of June.