Tweed Shire Council’s REAP ramps up

100% Renewables has helped many organisations to set ambitious renewable energy and carbon reduction goals and developed the strategies and action plans that will help them get there. While this is one key metric for our business, a greater measure of success is when we see clients implement projects that will take them towards their targets. In this blog post, we provide an update on the multi-site solar PV projects being rolled out by Tweed Shire Council.

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Tweed Shire Council’s climate change targets and plan

Tweed Shire Council set itself a target to self-generate 25% of the Council’s energy from renewable resources by 2022, and 50% by 2025. Council’s Renewable Energy Action Plan (REAP) sets out the actions that Council will implement to meet these targets.

Tweed Shire Council’s solar journey

With around 230 kW of rooftop solar installed before the REAP was adopted, Council installed a further ~200 kW at the Tweed Regional Museum and Tweed Regional Aquatic Centre (TRAC), both in Murwillumbah in 2018/19.

Tweed Regional Aquatic Centre (TRAC) - Murwillumbah
Figure 1: Tweed Regional Aquatic Centre (TRAC) – Murwillumbah, Tweed Shire Council

In May 2019, Council also voted to approve the development of a 604 kW ground-mounted solar array at its Banora Point Wastewater Treatment (WWTP) plant, Council’s most energy-intensive facility.

With planning for this major project well underway, Council has also implemented several new roof and ground-mounted systems in recent months, including two systems at its Bray Park Water Treatment Plant and water pumping station, and systems at Kingscliff WWTP and Mooball WWTP.

Bray Park Water Treatment Plant, Tweed Shire Council
Figure 2: Bray Park Water Treatment Plant, Tweed Shire Council

Council is also working to deliver new rooftop solar projects at sites across Tweed Heads and Kingscliff in the coming months. With the completion of these projects Council’s total installed solar PV capacity will be close to 1,500 kW, which is equivalent to the annual energy consumption of 300 homes, or the same as taking 540 cars off the road.

Challenges of rolling out the solar program

Implementation of Council’s solar rollout program has not been without its challenges. Most projects have to overcome barriers during planning, implementation and post-installation phases and Tweed Shire Council’s program is no exception.

Roof structural assessment outcomes, electrical connections, system performance and yield, retrofitting monitoring systems and linking into Council’s own IT systems have created challenges for Council’s staff and contractors to assess and overcome and provide ongoing lessons in the issues and solutions that will inform future solar projects.

The success of the solar program

Perhaps the biggest factor underpinning the success and speed of Council’s solar rollout in the last year has been the investment Council has made in bringing skilled staff together to implement the program. With overall coordination of the REAP, experienced senior engineering staff planning and coordinating the solar implementation works, and experienced energy management and measurement and verification staff tracking and optimising the performance of installed systems, Tweed Shire Council is supporting its REAP program with the resources needed to ensure success.

Progressing towards its renewable energy target

In parallel with the solar rollout, Council is also progressing a number of other projects that will see it get closer to its targets, including building lighting, renewable energy power purchasing, and selected air conditioning upgrades. Planned roof upgrades will also support future solar PV systems.

Tweed Shire Council is one among many leading councils showing that achieving ambitious renewable energy and carbon reduction goals is both feasible and cost-effective.

100% Renewables is proud to have played a role in helping this leader through the development of their Renewable Energy Strategy. We look forward to Tweed Shire Council’s continued success in reaching its renewable energy targets in coming years.

100% Renewables are experts in helping organisations develop their climate change strategies and action plans, and supporting the implementation and achievement of ambitious targets. If you need help to develop your Climate Change Strategy, please contact  Barbara or Patrick.

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