Solar systems shine light on energy efficiency

A key theme of the Bathurst 2036 Community Strategic Plan is environmental sustainability, including the promotion of energy efficient growth and the reduction of Bathurst City’s environmental footprint.

To help build the capacity of Council to pursue environmental improvements and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its own operations, in 2010 Bathurst Regional Council committed $100,000 seed funding to establish a Revolving Energy Fund.

A Revolving Energy Fund is a financial mechanism whereby a proportion of the savings made as a result of implemented energy saving projects is diverted into a designated fund to allow funding of future energy saving initiatives.

Six projects have so far been implemented using the Revolving Energy Fund.

These have included a number of energy efficient lighting projects and the installation of grid-connected solar systems at several sites.
The most recent project funded by the Revolving Energy Fund was the installation of a 50kW solar system at Council’s Water Filtration Plant in 2014.

The project averts the emission of 72 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent each year, and the project will pay for itself in six years.

The Revolving Energy Fund is managed by Council’s Environmental, Planning & Building Services Department in accordance with a set of guidelines adopted by Council. Anyone within Council can apply to the revolving energy fund with potential projects.

Proposed projects are assessed for suitability and value for money by Council’s Internal Environment Committee.

In 2012 Council commissioned the preparation of a Distributed Energy Plan to assist in identifying opportunities to reduce energy use and if possible to substitute coal-fired electricity with lower carbon, potentially locally generated alternatives.

On-site solar energy generation was found to be the most suitable and economically viable renewable energy technology for most of Council’s facilities and Council is pursuing the implementation of grid connected solar as resources become available.