CSU green manager Ed Maher

From Charles Sturt University:

Charles Sturt University will soon boast one of the largest rooftop solar energy systems in Australia as the University continues to reduce its environmental footprint.

CSU has signed a contract with solar company, Todae Solar, for the design, construction and installation of more than 6000 panels on university buildings in Wagga Wagga.

CSU green manager Ed Maher said the rooftop solar photovoltaic system will generate 1.77 megawatts of power at peak output.

“The forecast annual output from the system of 2,618,184 kWh represents 18.7 per cent of the University’s electricity consumption in Wagga Wagga,” Mr Maher said.

“It will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2513 tonnes CO2-e compared to conventional grid-sourced electricity, making a significant contribution to reducing the University’s carbon footprint.”

CEO of Todae Solar Mr Danin Kahn said: “We are delighted to be the successful tenderer for this project as it builds on our company’s profile as Australia’s leading commercial solar installer.”

The announcement of the new contract follows the declaration earlier this year of CSU as Australia’s first of Carbon Neutral university.

Mr Maher said: “What is also significant is that the new system will not involve any significant capital funding by Charles Sturt University and will result in cheaper power in its first year. This is despite our existing low electricity tariffs and the absence of any unique government subsidies or grants.

“Given these early savings, I believe it marks a new phase in the financial viability of renewable energy on a large commercial scale which is another step towards a clean energy future.”

The 6 012 panels, which would cover an entire football field, are expected to be on-site by March 2017 and fully commissioned four months later.

They’ll be placed on top of 11 buildings at CSU in Wagga Wagga including: the Learning Commons, School of Communication and Creative Industries building, School of Dentistry and Health Sciences building, indoor arena at the Riverina Equestrian Centre, gymnasium, student accommodation, National Life Sciences Hub, Phytotron, and Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

Independent energy services firm Verdia arranged finance for CSU’s solar solution.

Its chief executive officer Paul Peters said: “Charles Sturt University is leading the way with its smart approach to reducing energy costs and improving its environmental footprint.

“Like Charles Sturt University, any organisation considering a solar or energy efficient solution should develop the business case as the first step.

“Once the design is right and quality equipment sourced from a good supplier, finance can be typically arranged with no upfront capital required, so the solution is cash-flow positive from the start.”

The solar energy project at CSU has involved three years of planning and consultation including a competitive tender process, involving support from Solar Choice, a specialist in solar energy procurement.

CSU intends to follow a similar process for renewable energy generation across its campuses.

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