Solar project reaches midway point

ONE of Australia’s largest public rooftop solar power projects – the conversion of Coffs Harbour’s Rigby House – has reached the midway point with half the building’s roof now covered in solar panels.

A total of 327 photovoltaic panels have been installed on the eastern side of the building, which houses the Regional Art Gallery and Coffs Harbour Library. Council’s contractors, Solar Inverters, have now moved onto the western wing of the building and begun to lay the remaining 327 panels.

“By turning to solar power at the art gallery and library, we are aiming not only to cut our energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, but we are also hoping to set a lead for the community to follow,” said Coffs Harbour mayor Keith Rhoades.

“Many residents have already made the switch, or are making the switch to solar power for their homes, but we’re hoping that other local organisations and businesses will also take the step in the future.

“We already use energy-efficient street lighting – and were the first council in NSW to install it across our local government area.

“In all, we predict that fitting the solar panels will save more than $30,000 a year in direct electricity costs for Rigby House, as well as generating an income of approximately $6500 per annum in Renewable Energy Certificates.”

The solar grid system being installed on the roof of Rigby House will generate around half the power needed to run the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, lighting, office equipment and lifts.

The project is being undertaken using an $815,850 grant received through the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change and Water’s ‘Climate Change Fund Public Facilities Programme’.

In addition to the cost savings, a further key feature of the project is to raise awareness across the community of the advantages of saving energy and the key role that solar power can play in a sustainable future.

The building will become the focal point of an education program aimed at schools and key community sectors. As well as workshops, forums and educational material, a display relating to the solar energy system installed on the roof will be placed in the building’s foyer.

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