The Deputy Premier, the Hon. Rob Hulls MP, today unveiled a major new sustainability initiative at Flemington Race course with the launch of new solar energy installations in time for the 2010 Melbourne Cup Carnival.

The solar project is a joint initiative of the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) and its sustainability partner, AGL Energy, under the Flemington Green Fields sustainability initiative, with additional support from the Victorian government which contributed $100,000 to the project.

AGL provides 100% accredited GreenPower for the Carnival, while its partner in the federal government's $1.5 billion Solar Flagships scheme, First Solar, supplied solar photovoltaic (PV) panels for the project.

About 40 people and three cranes were involved in installing 384 solar PV modules (30 kW) at two challenging elevated locations: on top of the famous Flemington Grand Stand, and on top of the infield information screen on the home straight.

Mr Hulls said the renewable energy project would abate more than one million black balloons of carbon a year.

"That equates to more than 50,000kg of CO2 not making its way into the environment, and that's why we are delighted to be able to support this renewable energy initiative at Flemington," Mr Hulls said.

"The Brumby government is committed to making Victoria the solar state by offering the most comprehensive support for solar energy of any Australian state.

"As part of this commitment we have committed $100 million in funding support for electricity supplied from 2015 from Victorian projects which are successful under the Commonwealth's Solar Flagships program."

Under the Green Fields program, AGL offsets carbon emissions resulting from fuels used at Flemington by the VRC during the Melbourne Cup Carnival, including diesel, LPG and natural gas.

AGL's Head of Energy Services, Marc Barrington, said: "AGL is proud to be the company which supports the VRC in its commendable efforts to turn the nation's most famous sporting event into one of Australia's most sustainable events as well.

"The Green Fields concept, and the new solar extension of our partnership, is a wonderful combination of the old and the new: this year we not only celebrate the 150th running of the Melbourne Cup, but also this latest move to embrace the future with today's unveiling of Flemington's new solar energy panels.

The CEO of the VRC, Dale Monteith, said the club was delighted to be in partnership with such an innovative sponsor as AGL and to be working with both AGL and the Victorian Government to make horse racing more sustainable.

"Over the past 150 years, Flemington, a National Heritage listed site, has been an important part of Melbourne and Australia's social fabric and we aim to implement further sustainability initiatives at Flemington to enable the VRC to maintain a leadership position," Mr Monteith said.

"In 2010, Australia and much of the world will be focussed on Flemington for the running for the Emirates Melbourne Cup, 150th celebration and we will be in a position to demonstrate Victoria's thoughtful approach to the environment through this initiative.

"The Green Fields initiative, in particular the new solar energy panels, will help ensure that the Melbourne Cup Carnival and Flemington Racecourse are sustained and protected for generations to come."

"We are proud to showcase our technology at this iconic venue to help educate the public about clean, renewable solar energy," said TK Kallenbach, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Product Management at First Solar.

About AGL

AGL is Australia's largest integrated renewable energy company and is taking action toward creating a sustainable energy future for our investors, communities and customers. Drawing on over 170 years of experience, AGL operates retail and merchant energy businesses, power generation assets and an upstream gas portfolio. AGL has Australia's largest retail energy and dual fuel customer base. AGL has a diverse power generation portfolio including base, peaking and intermediate generation plants, spread across traditional thermal generation as well as renewable sources including hydro, wind, landfill gas and biomass. AGL is Australia's largest private owner and operator of renewable energy assets and is looking to further expand this position by exploring a suite of low emission and renewable energy generation development opportunities.