Solar farm proposed
Harvey Shire Council could become a State leader in renewable energy if a planned solar farm goes ahead in Benger.
The $150 million Benger Solar Farm proposal would see solar panels installed on 187ha of agricultural land on Campbell Road, close to Partridge Road and Wellesley Road North.
Proponents for the proposed solar farm, South Energy, held an information session at the Brunswick Town Hall on Thursday as part of its community consultation.
South Energy project manager Baifu Du said the session went well with a “vast majority” of people welcoming the proposal and many asking why the location had been selected.
“When we look to build a solar farm we have a list of criteria and a big one is having relatively flat land because the tracking technology we’ll use doesn’t cope well with undulating terrain,” he said.
The panels would have a potential production capacity of about 100MW, or enough energy to power the equivalent of 35,000 households once connected to the Western Power grid.
In its initial development phase the plant could be fully operational by 2022.
“Operation in 2022 is based on the assumption that the construction will commence in early 2021. Several milestones have be to achieved between now and then,” Mr Du said.
“We need to finalise a planning permit application before submitting it to the Shire of Harvey.
“The planning application is not only to be approved by the local council, but also subject to assessment and approvals by further government agencies.”
It is expected the 12-to-18-month construction phase of the project would create more more than 250 jobs. Mr Du said prospective contractors would likely look to hire local people if they had the required skills.
Representatives from South Energy also briefed Harvey shire councillors about the project.
“This is a potentially very exciting development for our area,” Shire president Tania Jackson said.
“It is good to see the company going through their community consultation process before they submit their plans to council.”
Cr Jackson said previous solar projects by the company on the east coast had enabled grazing of livestock underneath the solar panels, which were built on a frame and rotated throughout the day to track the sun’s movements.
“The site the proponents have selected is on previously intensive agricultural land,” she said.
“There is a potential for mixed-use land in their plan for Benger.”
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