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Wanneroo Council sets sights on solar-powered future

Western Australia’s Wanneroo Council has called for expressions of interest to develop and operate a grid-connected solar farm on local government-owned land in the northern Perth suburb of Neerabup.

The solar plant would be part of the Neerabup Energy Precinct, which was established by the Council to meet growing electricity demand in Perth’s expanding northern suburbs, as well as to supply peak power to Western Power’s South-West Interconnected System.

It follows similar decisions by the Sunshine Coast council in Queensland to build a 15MW solar plant, and a similar decision by the City of Fremantle to push for a 10MW solar plant on a former rubbish dump.

The shire of Esperance is also looking at “big solar” as an answer to its energy issues, while numerous councils in Victoria and New South Wales will install solar as part of their respective pushes for 100 per cent renewable energy targets, or to become zero net energy towns.

According to the Wanneroo EOI, the City of Wanneroo’s population, currently numbering more than 185,000, is projected to double over the next 20 years, as are the number of residences in the city’s 36 suburbs.

“With this growth rate it is crucial to carefully plan for the implementation and delivery of future infrastructure, new facilities and services and employment for the needs of a growing population,” the document says.

The decision to go with a utility-scale solar power plant – over and above gas or coal – was made by the council in March, following an assessment of the results of a 2014 tender, which called for both renewable and non-renewable development options.

The council says the development of a local big solar project would not only generate clean and sustainable energy, but would promote green innovation and achieve environmental, social and financial benefits for the City’s wider community.

The EOI specifies that it is seeking tenders for a utility-scale installation of interconnected solar collection modules to generate and supply renewable energy to the electrical grid. Submissions will be accepted up until 3pm Tuesday June 23, 2013.

Article Author: Giles Parkinson