Pokolbin-based entrepreneur Jerry Schwartz is bringing a massive renewable energy source to the heart of coal country.
The 5.000 MW capacity solar farm comprises 13,350 panels on property he owns adjacent to the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley in Lovedale.
When the $8.5 million solar farm becomes operational at the end of November, the renewable energy source will deliver a C02 reduction of approximately 7,811,000 kg per annum - equivalent to removing more than 4300 vehicles annually from the road.
Dr Schwartz said environmental and sustainability best-practice needed to be at the heart of all hotels' operations.
"It is particularly important to showcase renewable energy in the heart of a region still known for its coal mining," said Dr Schwartz.
"Tourism is the sustainable industry of the future for the Hunter Valley, and to make the hotel, convention centre and brewery 100 per cent renewable is an important initiative.
"The opening of the Hunter Valley Conference and Events Centre in 2015 means that at times we have more than 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 impact."
The solar farm idea was first conceived in 2016, and approved after a full statement of environmental effects and a vegetation management plan.
Cessnock City Council and the Joint Regional Planning Panel approved the development application in December 2018.
Work commenced in February 2019, installing ground mounts for the 13,350 solar panels.
High voltage cabling and new power poles and switching gear is now being installed for connection to Ausgrid's infrastructure.
Two inverters have been delivered to site and an electrical switch room is being constructed, the solar farm will start to generate power at the end of November 2019.
The energy generated will contribute to the requirements of the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, Hunter Valley Conference and Events Centre and Sydney Brewery, all located on the Lovedale site.
It will effectively start to make the Schwartz properties 100 per cent renewable, with excess power initially sold back to the grid before eventually contributing to the power needs of Dr Schwartz's other hotels across NSW.