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Australia’s largest community solar farm completed in SE NSW

One of Australia’s first, and largest community-owned solar farms is set to be launched on the south coast of New South Wales, in Tathra.

The 30kW Tathra Community Solar Farm – an initiative of community climate action group Clean Energy for Eternity – adjoins the Tathra sewerage treatment plant, and will help power the facility.

According to CEFE, the installation – which will be officially opened on Tuesday – is expected to generate an average of 40MWh annually over its 25 year lifetime.

CEFE’s Prue Kelly, one of the project’s managers, says the bulk of funding for the solar farm came from individuals, families and businesses in Tathra, the Bega Valley and beyond, who donated $250 for ‘their’ panel.

As planned, the completed project’s 120 250W solar panels have been arranged to form the word IMAGINE – a message from the small beachside community, visible from the air above, that anyone can make the switch to renewables, if the will is there.

Planning for the solar farm began in 2013 and was given a huge boost when Bega Valley Shire Council made a site available and matched the funds that CEFE had already raised to kick start the project.

BVSC’s Daniel Murphy and Kelly were appointed project managers and a small team of volunteers got to work.

In just 12 months over $55,000 was raised, enough to construct the farm well ahead of the original three-year expectation.

But CEFE President Matthew Nott said the idea was really born back in 2006, when more than 3,000 Bega Valley residents spelled the word IMAGINE on Tathra Beach.

“Shortly after, CEFE was formed and adopted its 50/50 by 2020 target as an aspiration for local communities like Tathra,” Dr Nott said. “That is, 50 per cent reduction in energy consumption and 50 per cent renewable by 2020.

“A local solar farm was seen as key strategy for reaching that goal, along with solar bulk buy programs and putting solar PV on community buildings”

Since that target was adopeted, Nott says, solar has been installed on more than 30 surf clubs, RFS sheds and community buildings over the last eight years.

“I believe IMAGINE illustrates what a small grassroots organisation in a vibrant community can do, and will send out a very clear message to politicians: people want action on climate change and the future is Renewable Energy,” Kelly said.

Source: RenewEconomy

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