Solar panels have recently appeared on the rooftops of another three Somerset Regional Council buildings as part of a Council initiative to reduce energy costs and emissions.
The Somerset region is situated in the West Moreton area of South East Queensland, approximately 100 kilometres northwest of Brisbane. It has a population of around 24,600 and its major towns are Esk, Fernvale and Kilcoy.
While climate change doesn’t appear to be a major priority for Somerset Regional Council (yet), it is embracing solar power as we mentioned last year.
The most recent systems to go live are installations at Kilcoy Racecourse (40kW), Lowood Library (30kW) and Fernvale Indoor Sports Centre (60kW), for a collective capacity of 130kW. Other recent installations include a 30kW system on the rooftop of the Somerset Civic Centre in Esk.
“These solar initiatives will have financial and environmental benefits for the community and will ultimately pay for themselves,” said Somerset Mayor Graeme Lehmann in Council’s most recent newsletter. “We are also pleased that 12 of council’s 13 solar projects to date have been contracted to local businesses following competitive tender processes.”
Payback should be very rapid given the cost of solar these days and how the systems were funded. Installation of some/all of the systems has been supported by the Palaszczuk Government’s Local Government Grants and Subsidies Program, a $58 million initiative being delivered over two financial years.
LGGSP provides funding assistance for priority infrastructure and essential services meeting identified needs of communities. Approved projects are allocated a subsidy of up to 60 per cent of the total eligible project costs. In the case of the Civic Centre project, the QLD Government kicked in 50 per cent.
Small Scale Solar Powering Ahead In Somerset
Solar panels are very popular in the Somerset region – and not just with Council. According to data from the Australian Photovoltaic Institute, of the estimated 10,520 dwellings in the Somerset local government area (LGA), 5,247 had solar installed as at the end of September last year – that’s a whisker over 48%. Queensland leads the nation in terms of percentage of dwellings with a PV system (35.7%) and the Somerset LGA betters that by quite a margin.
Of the systems, 5,068 were below 10kW capacity and 179 in the 10kW – 100kW range. There were no large scale systems (100kW+) at that point.
While the region doesn’t have any large scale wind or solar power facilities yet, it is home to Wivenhoe Power Station, a pumped storage hydro power station.