LA TROBE University is about to turn two car parks into one of the biggest, if not the biggest, solar farms in Bendigo.
Construction workers have begun building carports topped with 1500 solar panels.
The carports will shade 200 individual parking spaces and help supply 30 per cent of renewable energy at the Flora Hill campus.
It is part of a wider push to make the entire university carbon neutral by 2029, acting Bendigo campus head Melanie Bish said.
"Across the regional campuses we are looking at achieving that target by 2022," she said.
La Trobe has campuses in Bendigo, Shepparton, Mildura and Albury-Wodonga, as well as in Melbourne.
The new Bendigo solar panels will bring the number already installed on campus to just over 3000, including those already on the roofs of several buildings.
The panels will not get La Trobe to the target but will make a huge contribution, Dr Bish said.
The campus has now installed about 6500 low energy LED lights and plans to turn waste into garden compost.
"We do also have a significant system set up to catch rainwater, so it is a dynamic approach," Dr Bish said.
The Bendigo Sustainability Group's Colin Lambie was not aware of any other Bendigo solar farm as big as the roughly 500kw version to be built in La Trobe's car parks.
"The previous biggest was a farm at Huntly, which was 300kw, I believe," he said.
Below: What's already on La Trobe's roofs (Bendigo campus vision begins one minute and 17 seconds into the video).
Solar panels remain the best way for Bendigo groups to slash their electricity use despite advances in other technology, Mr Lambie said.
"We don't get the wind resources here, which is next best ... you have to go west to get to the nearest wind farm," he said.
"The wind turbines are getting better and working at lower wind speed, so it might come one day but solar is by far the best around here."
Not only are solar panels good for the environment, they make economic sense, Mr Lambie said.
"It's cheaper, as the International Energy Agency has come out and said in the last few days," he said, referring to a new report that has found solar has overtaken coal as the new king of electricity.
The IEA's World Energy Outlook 2020 report explored different pathways out of the COVID-19 crisis and made renewables the starring feature of all.
Mr Lambie is closely watching how the La Trobe carport project pans out because it will help the sustainability group advise others in town.
He said election candidates currently vying for a spot on Bendigo's council should be watching La Trobe's project too.
"Obviously with the elections underway this topic comes up quite a bit. The council has a lot of roofs that are empty," Mr Lambie said.
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