A plethora of applications for solar farms designed to generate renewable energy are arriving on the doorsteps of northern Victorian and Riverina councils.
While the projects are touted as creating jobs and investment with clean energy, the applications have sent town planners off to research planning issues and have provoked some disquiet among landholders who want to preserve prime agricultural land.
An application for a $50million 48megawatt solar farm on 98ha of leased land east of Tatura has provoked 14 objections from surrounding landholders.
Meanwhile, in Finley a $220million solar farm has been proposed by developer ESCO Pacific which is expected to connect directly into the TransGrid 132kV, the high voltage transmission network that runs through the area.
This newest proposal will be one of three solar farms being investigated for the region, with another solar company, RES Australia, proposing similar multi-million-dollar facilities in the Mayrung and Blighty areas respectively.
‘‘We are developing the projects known as Currawarra and Tarleigh Park that are both 25km from Deniliquin,’’ RES Australia development manager Mike Whitbread said.
‘‘The main reason for building them in this area is the good solar resource and the flat clear ground.’’
The Currawarra farm is planned to generate up to 175megawatts of renewable energy while Tarleigh Park is designed to generate about half that amount (90MW).
The Finley proposal is earmarked for land located about 6km from the Finley township, south of Brookmans Rd and west of Cronulla Rd, with 480000 solar panels covering 300ha planned.
‘‘The ultimate goal is to generate clean electricity to feed back into the grid (TransGrid),’’ ESCO Pacific head of development Allison Hawke said.
‘‘The farm will employ five full-time local workers for operations, and more than 100 people for the construction stages,’’ she said.
While the Southern Riverina seems to be the place to plan a solar farm, northern Victorian towns have also seen proposals put forward with on-site works beginning at a site west of Kerang, which will be the home to Victoria’s largest solar farm.
The 130ha site will feature 170000 solar panels, expected to generate enough electricity to power 25000 homes each year.
In other news, the Victorian Government has approved funding of $50000 for Winton Wetlands to undertake a feasibility study for a solar farm.
The projects are expected to generate hundreds of jobs during construction and the Tatura project is envisaged to employ about five people for operation.