Solar power a win-win for UTS, NSW and the planet
We know that solar energy is good for the planet. But in recent years, solar generation has had a bad rap in terms of its reliability and cost.
While it’s true that a high penetration of solar can create challenges for some electricity networks, we have unique conditions in NSW that can allow us to substantially increase our solar generation and see benefits in the operation of our grid, as well as lower energy prices.
Watch the explainer video or read an in-depth backgrounder for the full story.
We all know that solar power is good for the planet.
But did you know that NSW is one of the best places in Australia to benefit from solar?
Homes, businesses and industry here use a lot of electricity and we have many sun-filled wide-open spaces that are perfect for solar farms.
Because solar power is cheap to make but currently expensive to store, it’s more efficient when peak generation matches peak demand
In NSW, demand peaks in the heat of summer. It’s at its highest on hot afternoons when air conditioning is switched on and turned up.
This is also the best time to turn sunshine into electricity, as it’s when solar panels can generate the most power.
Yet we currently only make around 5% of our energy from solar and import up to a quarter of our energy from other states.
New solar farms could increase local generation capacity, reducing our reliance on imports.
We also need to start planning for the retirement of our ageing coal power plants, like the Liddell Power Station in the Hunter Valley.
With more solar we can start to phase out less sustainable methods of energy production.
It can also help to improve operation of the electricity grid and reduce power prices for everyone.
But building large-scale solar farms needs significant start-up investment
That’s where high energy users like UTS can make an impact. As a large organisation, we can use our purchasing power to provide certainty to new solar projects and make sure they get built.
We were the first university to kick-start a new solar project through an offsite-solar Power Purchase Agreement and our commitment to the 32 megawatt Walgett Solar Farm is making it a reality.
This solar farm will produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of 9,600 NSW homes.
UTS also has partnerships with solar farms in Singleton and Orange in regional NSW.
As well as on-site solar across our campus.
Sustainability and innovation are in the DNA of UTS. By putting our money where our mouth is, through investing in solar infrastructure and purchasing solar energy, we can help new initiatives get off the ground.
Even better, our sustainability initiatives are saving on energy costs as well as reducing our emissions.
A win-win - for UTS, for NSW and the planet.
UTS has recently made a significant commitment to purchase the equivalent of half of our annual electricity demand over 12 years from the soon-to-be-built Walgett Solar Farm.
This latest commitment follows substantial investment in rooftop solar technologies across six of our campus buildings and two other contracts to buy solar energy from off-site providers. These projects are a win-win, as they allow the university to manage and reduce our energy costs, as well as our emissions.
The UTS campus has been reimagined over the past decade with new buildings and facilities. We are taking responsibility for the additional load placed on the electricity grid by looking for opportunities to increase our use of clean and sustainable energy.
UTS will continue to explore innovative opportunities to increase our renewable energy use.