Re­gion ideal for state so­lar plan

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News - BY DEAN LAW­SON

De­vel­op­ment lead­ers have pounced on a State Gov­ern­ment plan to play a key role in de­vel­op­ing re­gional so­lar farms, by declar­ing the Wim­mera-south­ern Mallee ideal for so­lar-power gen­er­a­tion.

Wim­mera De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Ralph Kenyon said the re­gion, with its wide-open spa­ces, long hours of shade-free sun­light and ready ac­cess to the state power grid, rep­re­sented the per­fect area for largescale so­lar-power pro­duc­tion.

“We have a won­der­ful, nat­u­ral op­por­tu­nity sim­ply wait­ing here if some­one is in­ter­ested in tak­ing up the gov­ern­ment’s in­vi­ta­tion in our part of the world,” he said.

The State Gov­ern­ment an­nounced late last week it would run a ten­der to help build large-scale so­lar farms to gen­er­ate 75 megawatts of power, lead­ing to $150-mil­lion in new cap­i­tal in­vest­ment and 300 new jobs.

It plans to link about 35 megawatts gen­er­ated by the new so­lar farms to Mel­bourne’s elec­tric tram net­work.

Part of the process would in­volve the gov­ern­ment vol­un­tar­ily sur­ren­der­ing re­new­able en­ergy cer­tifi­cates match­ing the amount of elec­tric­ity used by all of Mel­bourne’s trams.

En­ergy, En­vi­ron­ment and Cli­mate Change Min­is­ter Lily D’am­bro­sio said an open ten­der would run in the first half of 2017 to build Vic­to­ria’s first large-scale so­lar farms by the end of 2018.

“We’ll use our pur­chas­ing power as a large en­ergy con­sumer to boost in­vest­ment in re­new­ables and cre­ate new jobs for Vic­to­ri­ans,” she said.

Mr Kenyon said the Wim­mera and south­ern Mallee were well placed to pro­vide a con­duit be­tween nat­u­ral and de­vel­oped as­sets and de­vel­op­ers keen to es­tab­lish a plat­form for so­lar-power gen­er­a­tion in re­gional Vic­to­ria.

“The po­ten­tial for re­new­able en­ergy in our part of the world has al­ready been well doc­u­mented and demon­strated by the suc­cess of wind-farm projects in the re­gion,” he said.

“The po­ten­tial for so­lar-power gen­er­a­tion to add to that ca­pac­ity would be wel­come and also ap­pro­pri­ate con­sid­er­ing our cli­mate cir­cum­stances and a strong in­ter­na­tional push to es­tab­lish re­new­able re­sources.”

En­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions and na­tional and state po­lit­i­cal sup­port for re­new­able-en­ergy de­vel­op­ment has led to a boom in sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­na­tional wind-farm de­vel­op­ment across the Wim­mera and West­ern District.

Ararat Wind Farm, un­der con­struc­tion and al­ready op­er­a­tional, is pro­vid­ing power to the ACT. Other de­vel­op­ing wind-farm projects are at Murra Warra be­tween Hor­sham and War­rackn­abeal, Bul­gana near Great West­ern, Ki­ata in the west Wim­mera and Won­won­dah near Hor­sham.

Hor­sham civic of­fi­cers have al­ready fielded queries from an in­ter­na­tional firm ex­plor­ing the po­ten­tial of so­lar-power gen­er­a­tion in the re­gion.

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