UQ solar farm to go ahead despite complaints.

Construction of the $125 million 64MW UQ solar farm will go ahead although there have been myriad complaints from local NIMBYs in the Warwick area – the farm has received development approval from the Southern Downs Council this week.

UQ solar farm

UQ Solar Farm
UQ Solar Farm (source: www.warwicksolarfarm.com.au)

Terrain Solar were responsible for submitting the DA for the 154-hectare project at Freestone Valley – but UQ will take over when construction begins later this year. Southern Downs Council approved the DA yesterday with Mayor Tracy Dobie casting the deciding vote.  

Some local residents aren’t as chuffed, arguing that it represents “environmental vandalism” to put install solar panels on “good agricultural land”. We rolled our eyes too. The solar farm opposition hasn’t managed to make much of a difference, with the majority of residents still happy for the project to go ahead.

“We are already the largest solar generator among Australian universities, and this initiative will complement the 50,000 existing solar panels on our campuses,” vice-chancellor and President Professor Peter Høj said in a statement.

“This project makes a clear and bold statement about UQ’s commitment to leadership in renewables and demonstrates UQ is prepared to make a meaningful investment in creating a sustainable future,” vice-chancellor Høj continued.

Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie said the solar farm would be a “phenomenal project” and said it was possible to utilise the land for agricultural and energy generation purposes at the same time:

“It is the intention to graze sheep on that land and it will continue to be productive land throughout the life of the solar farm,” Cr Dobie said.

“Myself and councillors understand all of the concerns but there are many, many residents who are very supportive of the solar farm.

“I understand why those individuals and those families have concerns and we have tried as best as we can to condition this proposal to ensure that we can go as far as we can to meet the concerns of those residents.”

In approving the farm, the council imposed 37 discrete conditions such as the planting of natural vegetation to try and protect local views. 

This will make UQ the first major university in the world to offset 100% of its energy usage with renewables. The UQ solar farm will generate around 154,000 megawatt hours per year – the equivalent of offsetting around 27,000 homes. It’ll join UNSW who also committed to going 100% solar powered, thanks to Maoneng‘s Sunraysia solar plant.

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Pallamana solar plant and battery in the works.

Pallamana solar plant – the suburb in South Australia will receive a 176MW PV solar plant and a battery storage system as part of plans released by renewable energy company RES. It gained “Crown sponsorship” in February and is one of two Murraylands solar projects (The other is Vena Energy’s $200m solar farm at Tailem Bend) currently in progress.

Pallamana Solar+Storage Facility

Pallamana Solar Plant and Battery
Pallamana Solar Plant and Battery (source: RES)

A 730 hectare site, which is currently used for cropping, could generate enough electricity to power 82,000 homes. This would result in co2 emissions decreasing by more than 140,000 tonnes per year. RES are planning to apply for DA (development approval) within the next month and then begin construction Q2 next year. 

The site is located in between Hillview Road and Monarto Road, just south of the Pallamana airfield and approximately four kilometres from Murray Bridge. It’s also adjacent to a power substation, (which you can see in orange on the picture above). 

No word yet on the specifics of the project but we’ll be sure to update you as soon as we know what sort of equipment they’ll be using. Of particular interest is the solar battery which hasn’t even got a size yet – so we’re not sure exactly what they’ll end up doing with regards to energy storage. 

The project is expected to create 200 solar jobs during construction and around 320 down the supply chain (accommodation, hospitality, cleaning, and so on). Hopefully RES hire as many locals as possible – there is a lot of solar talent in South Australia!

It’s not all peaches and cream for everyone involved, however – local aviation students have been known to make (infrequent, but necessary) emergency landings in the field where the solar panels will be installed and local residents told a meeting the rows aren’t wide enough for a light aircraft and they were concerned about what would happen in an emergency. 

Councillor Fred Toogood said the proposal was ‘exciting’ and that ‘we’ve got to be open to this sort of thing’ so we’ll see how they resolve the aircraft issue over the next month or so.

As per the Murray Valley Standard, if you’re a local and would like more information about the proposed Pallamana solar project, please visit www.pallamana-solarfarm.com or call 1800 118 737.

 

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Shepparton solar: council to install

Shepparton Solar Farm Proposals / Council Solar

Shepparton solar – the regional Victoria town is going to follow the trend of councils going renewable and install solar power at some of their local facilities, the Greater Shepparton City Council voted this week. The jury’s still out on a number proposed solar farms in Shepparton which are being opposed by some.

Shepparton solar – council investment.

Council solar has been a hot topic over the past 12 months and it’s fantastic to see the Greater Shepparton City Council following suit – Renew Economy are reporting that at a council meeting last week a $225,500 contract to install solar panels on multiple council buildings had been awarded to True Value Solar from Melbourne. 

Cr Bruce Giovanetti made a statement about how important councils doing their part in utilising renewable energy is:

‘‘It’s great to see council is taking a proactive approach to ensuring we can reduce energy consumption costs as much as we can,’’ he said.

Shepparton Solar Farms

Shepparton Solar Farm Proposals / Council Solar
Shepparton Solar Farm (source: greatershepparton.com.au)

The Shepparton News are reporting that five solar farms in Shepparton have been proposed:

  • Tatura East solar farm (45MW)
  • Tallygaroopna solar farm (30MW)
  • Lemnos solar farm (100MW)
  • Congupna solar farm (68MW)
  • Mooroopna solar farm (12MW)

These five farms total more than $300m of investment and will produce over 250MW of power for the area – but not everybody is happy about it. 

According to Greater Shepparton Councillor Chris Hazelman:

‘We’ve heard the relevant objections from people nearby, which indicates concerns about the science, about amenity, about the alienation of agricultural land,”

Hazelman elaborated on how he thinks the dispute will end up in the courts: 

‘‘And in the absence of (state government) guidelines, it would appear that regardless of what decision council makes, either for or against … it will inevitably end up in VCAT. It’s going to make it difficult.’’

We’ve heard the NIMBY argument about ‘prime agricultural land’ from ‘concerned residents’ before (remember Photon Energy’s Brewongle solar farm?) – so it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in court. 

A spokesperson for Planning Minister Richard Wynne said the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning had prepared advice for the minister to consider, and he would make his ruling in due course.

You can read more detailed information about the solar farm planning permit applications by clicking here

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Brewongle Solar Farm faces NIMBY opposition.

The Brewongle solar farm, set to be constructed on a 203 hectare parcel of land at Brewongle, is facing staunch opposition from local residents who are concerned they will have to look at it. It’s expected to result in almost 200,000 tonnes of co2 savings and will produce 240GWh of renewable energy per year. The proposed farm has also raised the ire of Brewongle locals who object to its installation on ‘prime agricultural land’. 

Brewongle Solar Farm Proposed Location
Brewongle Solar Farm Proposed Location (source: photonenergy.com.au)

Brewongle Solar Farm

Photon Energy are proposing to build the 146MW solar farm which will finish construction at the end of 2018. Photon have set up a community engagement page to interact with the residents of Brewongle while they try to get development approval for the project. In the meantime, around 80 residents attended a public meeting on Wednesday night to discuss their concerns. Journalist Nadine Morton was at the event and you can click here to view a video of it. 

The Western Advocate quotes a number of residents who ostensibly don’t want ‘prime agricultural land being used for a solar farm’ but seem more concerned with its aesthetic sensibilities (or lack thereof?) – with one saying ‘you will see it from the house’, and another ‘I’m going to see it, I have a vested interest in not seeing it’. No word on what that vested interest is, but presumably the implicit ignominy of renewable energy is particularly galling to Brewongle, given that new solar panels reflect as little as 2% of incoming sunlight and are okay to put on top of airports

Another resident thought it worth noting that ‘…people coming into Bathurst will see it from the railway line’ – perhaps they host the BHP Billiton Bathurst Birthday Bash and are concerned that this brazen display of the future may put off their open-cut coal mine overlords as they gaze out of the train window?

Lastly, the Western Advocate quotes another Brewongle resident who, in classic NIMBY fashion, ‘(doesn’t) think anyone opposes it, it just shouldn’t be on prime land’. Although the video above has poor audio and is a bit difficult to understand, there also appear to be some concerns about subdividing agricultural (rural) land and using it for commercial purposes – so we’ll see how this factors into their argument over the coming weeks and months. 

The residents have called on the Bathurst Regional Council to support them in their noble crusade, despite the fact that final approval will actually come from the NSW Department of Planning and Environment given that it is a ‘project of state significance’. 

Conversely, a more heartening letter to the editor has been published on the Western Advocate website where a Raglan local calls the rationale behind the opposition ‘bizarre’ and described the behaviour at the aforementioned public meeting as ‘somewhat embarrassing’ – which is putting it somewhat mildly.

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