It was out with the old and in with the new in a solar power upgrade for Marie Bashir Mosman Sports Centre in Sydney.
Mosman Council says the new 51kW solar power system on the Sports Centre rooftop will generate approximately 68,000kWh of electricity per year and avoid 61.2 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually. The emissions aspect is important to Council â€“ in November last year it declared a climate emergency.
Itâ€™s expected the new system will reduce the facilityâ€™s mains grid electricity consumption by 27%.
But the Centre already had solar panels installed â€“ a 15kW system added in 2011 â€“ so what happened to that? Good quality solar panels should last for decades. Hereâ€™s a pic of the rooftop with the old system:
â€śIn making the decision to install new panels, an important consideration was that regulations and Australian Standards have evolved significantly over the past eight years since a first set of panels were installed, and components of the old system did not meet the Clean Energy Councilâ€™s certification criteria. The new panels also have improved durability for all weather conditions.â€ť
Perhaps the latter had more to do with it than the former. Itâ€™s my understanding old solar panels that are no longer on the CECâ€™s approved modules list can still be used in an upgrade assuming certain conditions are met. But the only detail provided is what is mentioned above, so there may have been much more to the decision. In 2011, solar panel efficiencies were also significantly less than they are now â€“ meaning more electricity can be generated from the same rooftop space these days.
Back in 2011, commercial solar was also much more expensive than it is today, so hopefully at least payback was achieved on the original system.
The old installation didnâ€™t wind up in landfill, which is currently often the case when systems are decommissioned for whatever reason. Council says the solar panels and components were sent to PV Industries for recycling; with the exception of some panels that went to the University of New South Wales for research and development relating to recycling and end-of-solutions. The aluminium racking went to another recycling partner.
Recycling solar panels is a thorny topic â€“ SQâ€™s Ronald has previously argued sending old non-functioning solar panels to landfill is greener than recycling them (for now); except for the frames and junction boxes that can be easily removed. Perhaps in cases such as this and assuming the solar panels are still in good condition, they could have been used elsewhere (not necessarily in Australia).
Mosman is a harbourside suburb on the Lower North Shore of Sydney. Solar panels in Mosman, as in many affluent suburbs, arenâ€™t as common a sight as in â€śbattlerâ€ť burbs. In Mosmanâ€™s postcode area (2088), only around 638 small-scale systems had been installed as at the end of April this year.