The owner of Australia’s biggest private hotel collection is creating a vast renewable energy generator in the NSW Hunter Valley.
The 5.000 MW capacity AC solar farm comprises 13,350 panels on land owned by hotelier and cosmetic surgeon Jerry Schwarz adjacent to his Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley property in Lovedale, near Cessnock.
When the $10 million solar farm becomes operational at the end of November, it will deliver a C02 reduction of approximately 7,811,000 kg per annum – equivalent to removing over 4300 vehicles annually from the road.
The solar farm, to be built in the heart of NSW coal country, won final planning approval last December following presentation of a full statement of environmental effects and a vegetation management plan to Cessnock City Council and the Joint Regional Planning Panel.
Work began in February and equipment is now being installed for connection to Ausgrid’s infrastructure, with a proposed completion date at the end of November 2019.
The energy generated will fully meet the requirements of the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, Hunter Valley Conference & Events Centre and Sydney Brewery, all located on the Lovedale site.
Excess power will initially be sold back to the grid before eventually contributing to the power needs of Schwartz’s other hotels across the state.
The solar farm is the latest in a series of environmental initiatives involving the multi-millionaire hotelier, Schwartz arguing environmental and sustainability best-practice needs to be at the heart of operations for all hotels.
“It is particularly important to showcase renewable energy in the heart of a region still known for its coal mining,” he said.
“Tourism is the sustainable industry of the future for the Hunter Valley, and to have the hotel, convention centre and brewery fully powered by renewable energy is an important initiative.
“The opening of the Hunter Valley Conference & Events Centre in 2015 means that at times we have over 1000 people across the venue, so the installation of the solar panels across the property and the building of the new solar farm was an ideal solution to meeting our energy needs while minimising our environmental footprint.”
The Schwartz Family Company was a founding member of the World Green Council, an organisation that delivers online courses for hospitality workers with an emphasis on sustainability in tourism.