Nu­murkah So­lar Farm on track

Shepparton News - Country News - - NEWS - By Rod­ney Woods

Power from the so­lar farm cur­rently be­ing built at Dru­ma­nure will be used to cover the run­ning of Melbourne’s trams and a fac­tory at Laver­ton.

Vic­to­ria’s En­ergy Min­is­ter Lily D’Am­bro­sio vis­ited the Nu­murkah So­lar Farm last week to in­spect the progress of con­struc­tion, which is still on track to be com­pleted by May next year.

How­ever, the out­comes of an­other Neoen project at Lem­nos and two other projects in the Greater Shep­par­ton area are still up in the air.

‘‘We are here to­day to in­spect the progress of the con­struc­tion of this fan­tas­tic new so­lar farm in north­ern Vic­to­ria,’’ Ms D’Am­bro­sio said.

‘‘Now why is this im­por­tant? This project was ini­ti­ated as a re­sult of the Vic­to­rian Govern­ment’s very strong am­bi­tion for grow­ing re­new­able en­ergy.

‘‘We went out to ten­der about 18 months ago with a re­new­able cer­tifi­cate pur­chas­ing ini­tia­tive and that was to see new projects be­ing built in Vic­to­ria af­ter a num­ber of years un­der the pre­vi­ous state govern­ment where we saw in­vest­ment in re­new­able en­ergy dry up.

‘‘So what we de­cided to do was to go out for ten­der for two so­lar projects that would power Vic­to­ria’s trams and I’m ab­so­lutely de­lighted that Nu­murkah So­lar Farm was one of the win­ning bids.’’

Neoen Aus­tralia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Franck Woitiez said the 128 MW struc­ture was on track to be con­nected to the grid in May next year.

‘‘The progress of the work is sat­is­fac­tory — on time, on bud­get, ev­ery­thing is all right,’’ Mr Woitiez said.

With 200 jobs cre­ated at the peak of con­struc­tion, and 60 cur­rently on site, Mr Woitiez said this would not be the only ben­e­fit to the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

‘‘The ben­e­fits flow­ing through the com­mu­nity are more than just the lo­cal con­struc­tion jobs, the ac­tiv­ity in the lo­cal pubs, the sub­con­trac­tors, the fenc­ing com­pa­nies or what­ever we can source from here we do through our part­ner Downer, the com­pany re­spon­si­ble for the con­struc­tion of the so­lar farm.’’

When asked about fu­ture ap­pli­ca­tions and whether they should all be de­cided by the plan­ning min­is­ter as wind farms are, Ms D’Am­bro­sio said both Richard Wynne and lo­cal coun­cils were on the same page.

‘‘I think what’s im­por­tant here is that the plan­ning min­is­ter is do­ing the work dili­gently in con­sul­ta­tion and close engagement with lo­cal govern­ment,’’ she said.

‘‘So he is very at­tuned to what lo­cal govern­ment is say­ing and I’m con­fi­dent that once the guide­lines have gone through that re­ally im­por­tant con­sul­ta­tion phase that there will be a set of guide­lines out there that lo­cal gov­ern­ments will be com­fort­able with and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties can have con­fi­dence in.’’

Ms D’Am­bro­sio was joined at the site by Ross Gar­naut, the pres­i­dent of SIMEC ZEN En­ergy, the Aus­tralian en­ergy arm of Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Al­liance, which has signed an agree­ment to use some of the power from the Nu­murkah So­lar Farm to power the Laver­ton steel­works fac­tory.

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