THE Singleton Solar Farm is pioneering a new business model that could encourage large scale renewable projects in the Hunter Valley and Australia.
XYZ Solar, owners of the solar farm, will provide 12 per cent to the University of Technology Sydney’s Chau Chak Wing Building’s annual electricity consumption, indirectly, for the next two years.
About half of the 407kW solar farm’s energy credits will be attributed to the University in what is called a Virtual Net Metering (VPN) arrangement.
“This is essentially a private power agreement they’re purchasing the electricity directly from the solar farm and it doesn’t involve any distributor,” Singleton solar farm owner Andrew Thaler said.
“The economic potential available through this concept is massive.
“It’s not just solar it could be any renewable energy.”
UTS Green Infrastructure Project Manager Jonathan Prendergast said to the UTS newsroom that for solar and wind farms to get funded and built, they need a customer for the energy.
"Until now solar and wind farms have relied on electricity retail companies to buy their electricity," Mr Prendergast said.
"This new customer-led renewables model means large consumers can become customers directly of renewable energy operators.”
The initiative goes beyond the financial incentive as well with PHD students from the University of New South Wales working at and studying elements of the solar farm this year.
In the next five years Mr Thaler believes there’s huge capability for solar generation in Australia and that some of that enormous potential can be found here in the Hunter Valley.
“Solar could be introduced to mining sites that are being rehabilitated to help minimise the huge costs involved,” he said.
“The infrastructure is there in the power lines and the solar will be compatible with cattle and sheep grazing on the rehabilitated land.
“It’s not about taking away from mining but it can help with the long term costs of managing mine land and the future of the area.”
Mr Thaler said the partnership shows that there are plenty of commercial customers for solar power out there and using this business model removed barriers.
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