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What can QLD businesses learn from the Bulli Creek Solar Farm?

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Queensland has reaffirmed its status as the Sunshine State by announcing it will play host to the largest solar farm in the country. The go ahead has been given to the project by Toowoomba Regional Council, with construction due to get underway next year.

Bulli Creek Solar Farm will span 5,000 hectares and is expected to have a generation capacity of 2,000 megawatts. One thing is for sure - solar PV facilities are getting bigger and better. Once completed, this facility will be larger than the FRV Royalla solar farm in the ACT, which currently lays claim to being the biggest in the country.

"It is expected to generate an average 37,000 MWh of renewable energy each year for the next 20 years and will meet the needs of 4,500 Canberra households," said Minister for the Environment, Simon Corbell.

At the time, the project was believed to have twice the capacity of the Greenough River project in Western Australia, but it now seems that Australia is competing for the title of the country's biggest solar farm.

The potential impact on Queensland businesses

Like many homeowners throughout the state, companies are finding themselves paying more and more for their gas and electricity. With the option of solar power becoming increasingly feasible, it's hardly surprising that many businesses are choosing to source their energy in this way.

The potential for solar is great. Figures from Energy Matters show that all the roof space in the country would be sufficient enough to meet the entire country's electricity needs. There's also the added benefit of solar PV systems having a lifetime energy yield that's 100 times better than any fossil or nuclear energy system.

While large-scale projects such as the one at Bulli Creek will go some way towards meeting Queensland's energy needs, it will also be important for effort to be made on a more localised scale. Property owners are able to find a growing number of products - and generally for less than in previous years - making solar more accessible than ever.

Looking to a solar powered future

There are high hopes for the future of solar power in Australia, which is certainly evident through the apparent need to invest in large scale projects.

A report from ARENA shows that Australia has the highest solar radiation per square metre than any other continent, which makes it a likely candidate for the renewable energy source. This is something that businesses and homeowners alike are starting to recognise, as ARENA forecasts that solar energy use will increase 5.9 per cent a year until 2029-30.

However, one of the main barriers to the uptake of solar PV will be regulations. The group argues that government policy settings need to be just right if the market is going to thrive and reach its full potential.

Public and private sector organisations will need to come together - as demonstrated through the Solar Choice and Toowoomba Regional Council arrangement - in order to make large scale solar a reality.

Firms are under pressure to reduce their carbon footprint and show they have all the right environmental credentials - and what better way to do this than by installing solar panels? Electricity prices are unlikely to come down any time soon, which makes the next logical choice to generate power onsite and reduce the amount sourced directly from the grid.

In some situations, business owners may even be able to sell electricity back to the networks, depending on the type of tariff they are on. There are various options available, but solar in many respects makes the most sense.

Posted by Nikki Wilson-Everett

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