Solar panels have now been installed on Rigby House.
Solar panels have now been installed on Rigby House. SUBMITTED

Solar rooftop lights the way

ONE of Australia’s largest public rooftop solar projects – Coffs Harbour’s own Rigby House – is just about complete.

The ground-breaking solar-energy project has reached a crucial stage with the completion of the installation of the solar panels.

The system is currently undergoing tests but has already been used to power the building’s air-conditioning network.

“This project is is a first for the Mid North Coast region,” said Coffs Harbour mayor, Councillor Keith Rhoades.

“By turning to solar power at the art gallery and library, we are aiming not only to cut our energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, but we are also hoping to set a lead for the community to follow.

“Many residents have already made the switch, or are making the switch, to solar power for their homes, but we’re hoping that the work at Rigby House will encourage other local organisations and businesses to take the step in the future.”

A permanent display on the solar energy project is due to be unveiled at Rigby House during the week of the Sustainable Living Festival in October.

The wiring and metering layout of Rigby House, which houses the city’s Regional Art Gallery and City Library, is now being reviewed to ensure that the environmental and economic benefits of the solar system will be maximised.

A total of 654 photovoltaic panels have been installed on the roof of Rigby House. They will generate around 30 per cent of the power needed to run the heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, lighting, office equipment and lifts.

The solar system will not produce any noise, toxic gas emissions or greenhouse gases. It will generate approximately 200 megawatt hours per annum – a saving of 200 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year.

It is predicted that fitting the solar panels will save more than $30,000 a year in direct electricity costs for Rigby House, as well as generating an income of approximately $6500 per annum in Renewable Energy Certificates.

The project has been made possible by a $735,000 grant received through the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change and Water’s ‘Climate Change Fund Public Facilities Program’.

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