The New England Regional Art Museum in Armidale this week connected to the power grid with one of the largest solar power arrays on any regional gallery in the country.
The 240 panels installed on the roof of NERAM will provide up to 88 Kwh to offset the power used by the facility’s lights, air-conditioning and other systems potentially saving thousands of dollars in operational costs each month.
“Running an art museum uses a lot of electricity,” said Robert Heather, Art Museum Director. “The conservation of delicate artworks requires our air-conditioning system to run 24 hours a day to provide steady temperatures and humidity levels and as a result our power bills have been mounting up quickly.”
“Over the past twelve months the New England Regional Art Museum has been seeking support to implement our ‘Sustainable NERAM’ action plan which aims to improve our financial and environmental sustainability.”
“This has included replacing our old incandescent exhibition lighting system with energy efficient LED lights, reducing the amount of heat in the building through tinting windows and sourcing the best solar power system that we can find. These initiatives have been made possible with support from funding bodies and a number of individual donors who treasure NERAM and our programs.”
“The installation of our new solar power system has been made possible by an interest free loan of $100,000 from a supporter as well as $12,000 donated for the purpose during the 2016 NERAM Annual Appeal by members of the community.”
“This innovative solution has provided us with the opportunity to install a large power array which will provide us with immediate benefits as we head into summer and use the savings to our power costs to pay back the loan over ten years.”
The new system has been installed by local business New England Solar Power who provided information and assistance to NERAM staff and board members throughout the process.
“The solar system at NERAM is the first installation in Australia to include high-powered 370 Watt panels made by LG,” said Cameron Dalgleish from New England Solar Power. “The system is anticipated to reduce electricity consumption by 36% and reduce associated carbon emissions by over 100 tonnes per year.“
“It delivers substantial financial benefits for many years into the future as well.”