Think HBR

Summerhill solar farm to be built with CEFC finance

Newcastle Solar Farm courtesy NCC
Newcastle City Council has secured a $6.5 million loan from Australia's Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to help build the region's biggest solar farm.
The 5 MW installation west of the city at the Summerhill Waste Management Centre will significantly reduce Council's annual $4 million electricity bill, after it doubled in the past two years.
The solar facility -- construction on which is expected to begin in June -- will save the city around $9 million over its 30-year life after construction and operational costs are factored in.
The installation's 14,500 panels will be built by international property and infrastructure group Lendlease, with most of the finance lent through the CEFC’s Local Government Finance Program, which offers councils flexible and competitive fixed rate, long-term finance.
"The solar farm will produce enough energy to run the equivalent of 1,300 households, which promises significant environmental returns for ratepayers and millions of dollars in savings on electricity costs,” Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.
"We are building sustainability into everything we do after reiterating our commitment last year to generate 30% of our electricity needs from low-carbon sources and cut overall electricity usage by 30% by 2020.
"Increasing our renewable energy capability and finding more energy-efficient solutions is an integral part of our long-term vision to become a smart, liveable and sustainable city."
Council received development approval for the $8 million project from the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) in February, and preliminary works are now underway at Summerhill.
Lendlease is teaming up with renewable energy specialists Energy Made Clean (EMC) to design and build the facility.
It will cover an area of around five football fields between Summerhill's entry road and construction-waste area, on a capped landfill site that was once part of the Wallsend Borehole Colliery.