Region ideal for state solar plan
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.