Solar farm benefits

Article image - Solar farm benefits Sheep roam the UQ solar farm at Gatton.

Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) and University of Queensland (UQ) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that aims to develop links and create opportunities for the Southern Downs Region around the Warwick solar farm project.

Acting Vice-Chancellor UQ, Professor Aidan Byrne, said, “In signing the agreement, both UQ and SDRC have entered into a collaborative arrangement to extend the benefits of this project.”

Mayor Dobie said among the initiatives outlined in the agreement was exploring the opportunity to supply SDRC with clean energy from the project at a competitive price.

“It would be a tremendous outcome for our ratepayers if we were able to access some of this solar-generated electricity to power our facilities and to help reduce Council’s operating costs,” the Mayor said.

The University and Council will also work together to create an annual scholarship program to encourage high achieving local students from the region to undertake studies in an energy or engineering related field at UQ.

UQ has announced it would own and operate the solar farm for its operational life, making it the first major university in the world to offset 100 percent of its electricity usage through its own renewable energy asset.

The 64 megawatt solar farm will provide research, teaching and engagement opportunities in addition to its environmental and financial benefits.

The MOU highlights opportunities for visitor information facilities and guided tours of the project, as well as the installation of electric car charging infrastructure that would be free for the public to use.

UQ will also seek agreements with local graziers interested in agisting sheep on the site, following a successful trial at the University’s solar research project at Gatton.