Renewable energy is experiencing rapid growth across Australia, as emissions reductions and energy security are prioritised by businesses and individuals.
Commercial solar power generation continues to go from strength to strength, as Australia enjoyed its biggest-ever month in December 2022 — delivering 1509 GWh of renewable power, according to the Clean Energy Council.
The WolfPeak team has worked on some of Australia’s largest solar projects providing support from project feasibility and planning approval to construction and ongoing management. We love to talk about renewables and are always keen to field questions about commercial solar solutions.
This article hopes to provide some inspiration for businesses considering how solar power might become part of their operations.
Largest rooftop solar: Australian Panels, Oberon
Coincidentally, this business in New South Wales doesn’t produce solar panels but rather manufactures timber panelling for joinery and structural wall and floor applications.
Regardless, WolfPeak has been more impressed by what’s on the outside of their mega-factory — eight soccer fields worth of solar panelling!
In 2022, a Newcastle-based engineering, procurement and construction provider called earthconnect installed 27,000 solar panels for the facility, bringing Australian Panel’s national solar installations to 53,967 panels across four locations.
At the Oberon facility alone, the investment in renewable energy has a grand emissions saving of up to 15,000 tonnes of CO2 per year. From a business perspective, the installation should generate 14 GWh of clean energy over 12 months, offsetting roughly one-third of its electricity costs.
Largest solar plants
While it’s harder to define Australia’s largest individual consumers of solar power, there are more reliable records of the country’s largest solar farms and plants.
As of April 2023, Queensland’s Western Downs Green Power Hub claimed this title with over one million solar panels creating 400MW of electricity. The farm’s construction supported nearly 450 jobs, $800 million in economic activity, and now has the capacity to power the equivalent of 235,000 homes.
Soon to overtake Western Downs is the New England solar farm in New South Wales. The two-stage project has been in construction for six years and the first stage is due to be built in the second half of 2023. Once commissioned, the first stage will produce 400MW, while the second stage will bring the complete project to a whopping 720MW solar farm. The finished farm will supply enough electricity to power more than a quarter of a million homes, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 per year.
Bungala Solar Farm near Port Augusta, South Australia rounds out our top three with an operational capacity of 275MW thanks to roughly 800,000 solar panels. The farm covers 600 hectares formerly owned by the Bungala Aboriginal Corporation. In return for the land, an industry/government partnership was included in the transaction which trained and employed approximately 70 local First Nations people. These days, the farm powers approximately 113,000 homes.
We love learning about new and exciting solar-powered projects. If your business is diving into the world of renewables, get in touch with our team to learn how we can support you with feasibility studies, planning, approvals and ongoing management. We’ll be sure to optimise your plans to have the best impact on the environment and your bottom line.