Griffith a bright spark with new solar farm

Columboola Solar Farm

A new solar farm in regional Queensland will be a bright spark for the future of Griffith University’s power needs, a big step in the right direction.

Chief Operating Officer Peter Bryant

University Chief Operating Officer Peter Bryant said all five of Griffith’s campuses will use power from the Columboola Solar Farm near Miles, which will provide 50 per cent of the university’s energy needs.

Queensland’s publicly-owned CS Energy is providing the renewable energy to Griffith through a tailored retail electricity contract.

“Griffith uses about 60 million kilowatt hours annually, contributing to around 70 per cent of the university’s total carbon footprint,” Mr Bryant said.

“This will help us be a more sustainable university by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases we produce from electricity.

“It will also help us achieve our commitment of halving our 2010 emissions by 2030 and then to net zero emissions by 2050.”

Mr Bryant said these types of projects are vital as universities are big users of electricity with a relatively small geographic/rooftop footprint making it difficult to install enough solar or other renewable sources of power on campus.

“Off-site renewable generation via long-term power purchase arrangements means we can source renewable power when on-site options are insufficient to meet our needs and also provide essential market support for investment in new renewable projects across the State.

“It’s a win-win for Griffith and the planet.”

Renewables Project Electrical Engineer William Pettit

Renewables Project Electrical Engineer William Pettit said the Columboola Solar Farm features over 417,000 individual solar panels on more than four square kilometres of farmland.

“Each year, the farm will generate approximately 440GWh of electricity which is enough energy to power 75,000 homes,” Mr Pettit said.

“The facility is a ground mount dual axis tracking photovoltaic solar farm which will see solar power flow into the transmission lines which then feed into the National Electricity Market for Griffith to use.

“The photovoltaic solar farms are composed of thousands of individual solar panels connected together.

“Each panel works by converting light into direct current power, which is then inverted to mains alternating current power and fed into the market.”

Queensland Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni said the Queensland Government had set a target of 70 per cent renewable energy for the state by 2032.

“As a Griffith alumnus myself, I know that its students are passionate about action on climate change, and that’s why I’m proud of what our Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan delivers,” Minister de Brenni said.

“This deal means students from all five of Griffith’s campuses will be plugging into renewable energy and in doing so, play their part in helping drive down emissions.”The 162-megawatt (ac) Columboola Solar Farm is owned by CSF.

CS Energy has a power purchase agreement for 100 per cent of the output of the solar farm, which it is on-selling to its large commercial and industrial customers like Griffith University.

Stage 1 of the solar farm recently commenced commercial operations, supporting the renewable energy requirements of CS Energy’s university customers such as Griffith University.

The solar farm will commence commercial operations for its full capacity (Stage 2) in early 2023.

Griffith’s commitment to environmental sustainability is an important aspect of the University’s culture and values and one of the key actions in ourStrategic Plan 2020-2025is the development and implementation of plans to ensure our 2030 carbon emissions are half that of 2010 levels.