Renewable energy at Parks Victoria lighthouses

Case study
Wilsons Promontory LIghthouse

An energy audit by Parks Victoria identified numerous hidden costs associated with the operation of remote lighthouse stations.

As a consequence there are now plans to install renewable energy systems (solar panels with existing generator back up) at both Wilsons Promontory and Gabo Island Lighthouses as part of the Greener Government Buildings program.

As a result, Parks Victoria will vastly reduce diesel consumption and the need to transport fuel to these remote sites.

Diesel financial cost savings at Gabo/Wilsons Promontory lighthouses have been assessed as:

Gabo Island

  • Currently the diesel generators at Gabo island consume approximately 6,000 litres p.a. at a cost of approximately $1.50 per litre = $9,000
  • Boat fuel cost for fuel transport is approximately $800 p.a.
  • Reduction in generator maintenance and servicing costs approximately $ 2,500 p.a.
  • Reduction in generator depreciation costs approximately $3,000 p.a.
  • Total annualised savings (not including Parks Victoria labour costs) following solar panel installation estimated to be approximately $15,300.

Wilsons Promontory Light House

  • Annual financial savings as a consequence of solar panel installation at the Wilsons Promontory lighthouse is conservatively estimated to $6,000 p.a.
  • This includes direct fuel cost plus an allowance for reduced aircraft hire and generator maintenance. If depreciation and labour were included the figure would be much higher but these savings could not be recovered for Greener Government Buildings program purposes.

 In total, installation of solar panels at both Gabo Island and Wilson Promontory lighthouses are expected to save Parks Victoria approximately $24,300 per year.

This not only saves money in fuel – which is the basis of the relevant return on investment calculations – but it will also significantly reduce the need for expensive aircraft and boat based transport and maintenance inputs, and it will free up staff to focus on higher priority park management issues. These co-benefits all come from a project which will reduce costs, fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Source: Strategic Audit report 2014

Image: Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse, markandsandy