SOLAR MUSHROOMS: Inspecting Chevallum growers SJW Mushrooms new solar power installation are (from left) Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson, Bruce Jones-Walker from installer MaxiSolar, Steven Willemse from SJW Mushrooms and State Member for Glass House Andrew Powell.
SOLAR MUSHROOMS: Inspecting Chevallum growers SJW Mushrooms new solar power installation are (from left) Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson, Bruce Jones-Walker from installer MaxiSolar, Steven Willemse from SJW Mushrooms and State Member for Glass House Andrew Powell. Brett Wortman

Solar power mushrooms

STEVEN Willemse has invested more than $100,000 in a solar system to power his family's SJW Mushrooms farm at Chevallum.

The 60kW solar hybrid system is believed to be the biggest of its kind on the Sunshine Coast.

Mr Willemse said he decided to avoid rising electricity costs and protect his farm from costly power outages.

The farm had no electricity for four days and lost $20,000 in stock when the Sunshine Coast felt the after effects of Cyclone Oswald in January last year.

The new hybrid solar system includes a battery back-up which can power the farm for up to 20 hours, depending on the electricity usage.

The system was installed by Sunshine Coast firm MaxiSolar and designed to cater for the farm's electricity usage patterns.

It comprises 240 solar panels on three different stand-alone arrays behind the farm sheds to capture the sun from the north, the north-east and west.

MaxiSolar chief executive officer Bruce Jones-Walker said the batteries would power the cooling of the sheds at night or if there was a blackout.

Mr Willemse said the farm would still rely on some electricity from the grid at night because battery costs meant it was not viable to go fully solar.

He expected the system to have paid for itself in five years.

Member for Glass House Andrew Powell described the farm's move to solar as a "sensible business decision and a very sustainable hybrid system".

"To have one Sunshine Coast hinterland business working with another Sunshine Coast hinterland business is fantastic," he said.

Mayor Mark Jamieson said it was good to see a local business using the latest technology to grow.



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