Two new solar farm proposals at Glenrowan and near Cohuna have further enhanced northern Victoria’s status as a sun-drenched region.
The Glenrowan proposal by ESCO Pacific, if successful, will cost $170million and see 245ha of private land replaced by 360000 solar panels that will generate 120MW.
The second proposal, by Leeson Group, is set for Horfield (8km south of Cohuna).
It will cost $45.5million, cover 82ha of a 128ha property (with the rest retained for farming) and will generate enough power from 104000 panels to power 8000 homes.
The intended site for the Glenrowan proposal is on Glenrowan-Winton Rd and members of the public voiced their concerns about the location at a recent meeting with ESCO Pacific.
‘‘I’m all in favour of solar, particularly for this region, but I am concerned generally that this country squanders its agricultural land, and the proposed site seems to be fairly well productive agricultural land,’’ Benalla Shire resident Pauline Baily said.
‘‘Is there any way you can look at perhaps putting it on less productive land?’’ Ms Baily asked.
‘‘We are limited in terms of where we can go,’’ ESCO Pacific’s head of development Allison Hawke said.
‘‘We have to be, it is critical, solar has just become commercially viable on its own merits,’’ she said.
‘‘One of the biggest overheads the project carries is the connection to the grid.
‘‘So in order for a solar farm to be competitive in the commercial energy market it needs to be very close to the existing distribution network.
‘‘So while it might seem that solar farms are popping up everywhere, there is a very limited capacity of area where these solar farms can exist,’’ Ms Hawke said.
Leeson Group director Peter Leeson said he hoped construction would begin at Cohuna by the middle of next year with connection to the grid in the late stages.
In other solar news, Neoen project manager Tim Kirk discussed the Numurkah Solar Farm at a recent new energy roundtable in Shepparton, where he confirmed construction would begin in early 2018.
Mr Kirk said the solar farm would generate 240000MWh of clean, renewable electricity into the national power grid each year, which is the equivalent of taking either 75000 cars off the road or planting 390000 trees.