Solar + storage powers Dorrigo health centre

Cork Trust memorial Medical Centre, Dorrigo
Cork Trust memorial Medical Centre, Dorrigo

A town in New South Wales’ Northern Tablelands is now home to Australia’s first “energy autonomous” medical centre, including a grid-connected solar and battery storage system.

The Cork Trust memorial Medical Centre in Dorrigo was locally funded by the George and Annie Cork Memorial Trust and has been leased to Dorrigo Health and Wellbeing to provide the community with health services including general practitioners, pathology, podiatry, psychologists and visiting specialists, as reported by One Step Off The Grid.

Eventually the site will also include 43 independent housing units for seniors accommodation.

To power the medical centre, a 36kW grid-connected solar and storage system was designed and installed by local outfit Solar Depot Bellingen, made up of three Selectronic SP1202 inverter chargers, six ABB inverters, and Yingli polycrystalline solar panels.

The solar array is expected to be expanded to 90kW once all the stages of unit development have been completed.

The energy storage system is made up of OPzV gel lead acid batteries, which can store up to 72kWh of available electricity. This will be used to store excess solar production for use at night instead of selling it back to the grid at a low rate, and can also be used for back-up during blackout periods.

It is expected the solar and storage system – when complete – will generate up to 20 per cent more power than the building’s average annual use.

The environmentally sustainable building, pictured above, was designed by Regional Architects and built by a local builder using local materials and trades wherever possible. It features cross ventilation, large thermal mass stores, double glazing, high rating insulation, natural lighting, low VOC paint, and a planted roof.

The medical centre will be kept warm through Dorrigo winters by a heat pump hydronic system, which is shared with the seniors housing development via an insulated underground hot
water loop.

A worm farm sewage system, storm water polishing, and a rain water harvested water supply completes the centre’s Autonomous Services Package.

“This iconic environmentally sustainable building is an example of the benefits of local knowledge and cutting edge technology which is able to provide environmental benefits and a fast return on investment for the trust,” said Geoff Tosio, Bellingen Solar Depot’s renewable energy consultant.

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