1st Tracking System Installed In New England

Solar Power Bonus: 1st Tracking System Installed in New England


A significant milestone has been marked for solar farms with the installation of the New England's first large scale solar power system with automated sun tracking. This is the first system installed as part of the Farming the Sun community enterprise being coordinated by the New England Sustainability Strategy (NESS).

“Tracking systems significantly increase the power generated by solar farms by as much as 40%,” said Adam Blakester, NESS Convenor. “They automatically tilt and turn the solar panel arrays to follow the sun, from dawn to dusk, meaning more solar is farmed into power.”

The first tracking system has been installed at Eulalia, a compact commercial seed farm located on the outskirts of Armidale and operated by John Davidson. Sustainability is central to Eulalia's operation and John is a champion for the value of tracking systems further improving the environmental and financial performance of solar power.

“I see my work as harvesting the sun,” said John. “One part of my harvest is producing non-hybrid vegetable seeds which are sold to gardeners right around Australia. At the very same time I'm harvesting the sun for power which is exported directly into the grid.”

The NSW Solar Bonus Scheme began on 1 January 2010 which means renewable energy generators like John Davidson are being paid premium rates for the renewable energy they produce and export to the grid – up to a maximum of 10kW per power meter.

“The combined effect of sun tracking systems and the Solar Bonus is to make solar power a good financial investment as well as being a good environmental investment,” added Blakester. “Depending on the system configuration we are predicting financial returns in the vicinity of 14-18% per annum.”

More than 200kW in new solar power has been taken up in the Farming the Sun initiative during just eighteen months. At the same time more than 200 solar hot water systems and 130 sustainable home assessments are also under way.

Eulalia was a showcase for the Sustainable Living Expo '09 and will be open to the community again as part of the Armidale Home Grown Garden Tour 2010. The Tour is being held on Saturday & Sunday 6-7 March and is organised by Armidale Local Food (ALF), part of Sustainable Living Armidale. The Tour features ten productive backyard food gardens within the town boundary, providing visitors with a unique opportunity to meet and share ideas and expertise with fellow food gardening enthusiasts, while demonstrating the wide range of fruits, berries, vegetables and herbs that can be grown in local backyards.

Tour booklets can be purchased from the Armidale Visitor's Information Centre in Marsh St 6772-4655. For further information contact Paul Kristiansen 6772-3954 or Jo Leoni 6771-2324.

For more details about Farming the Sun solar power, solar hot water or home sustainability assessments contact Liz Gardiner, Regional Coordinator, on 6778-7249 or go to www.ness.wikidot.com.

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