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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Molong Solar Farm Development Application Tendered By Terrain Solar

Some big news out of  New South Wales today as a proposal for a 100 hectare Molong solar farm has been tabled. Molong is a small town in the Central West region of New South Wales, in Cabonne Shire.

About the proposed Molong Solar Farm

Terrain Solar have lodged a development application to build a 100 hectare solar farm around 3km north-east of Molong – right next to the Transgrid substation. The DA has been lodged with Cabonne Council and will be referred to the Joint Regional Planning Pannel for “assessment and determination”, as advised by Cabonne Mayer Ian Gosper.

Gosper was quoted very positively about these new developments, going on record as saying “If the solar farm is approved, it will be great news for Cabonne and the environment”. Upon construction, the farm will generate 62k MWh / year (enough to power over 10,000 households) and will provide energy to Molong, Orange, and Dubbo.

Molong Solar Farm
Molong Solar Farm (source: Terrain Solar)

According to Terrain, once they receive development application, they hope to commence work on the solar farm by the end of 2017. Simon Ingram and Chris Wilson, the directors of Terrain Solar, said the project represents their “core business mandate, which is to work with landowners to bring renewable energy investment into regional areas.” The construction phase is expected to create 100 temporary jobs and ongoing maintenance of the farm will result in 3-4 permanent positions.

Wilson said the full cost of the farm can’t be revealed yet due to competitive tender.

Manildra Solar Farm

The Molong solar farm would sit alongside a $109m solar farm which is due to start construction at Manildra, 20km west of Molong. The 48.5MW Manildra Solar Farm was approved last September and will be built by First Solar, who have over 17GW of PV power installed worldwide. The Manildra PV farm is slated to reach completion in 2018 and will provide energy to approximately 14,000 homes in the area.

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