WANGARATTA SOLAR FARM TECHNICAL DETAILS
15 hectares leased from the Rural City of Wangaratta under a 25 year agreement with an option to extend the lease for a further 25 years
15 hectares purchased from private land-owners
29 hectares leased from private landowners.
Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels will occupy most of the first two parcels of land with around 65% of the 29 hectare block accommodating the remaining panels along with the project’s sub-station and switch yard.
20MW PV solar farm comprising 70,000 panels
Single axis tracking system
Substation located on the development at North Wangaratta 66/22KV with a 25MVA transformer
Point of common coupling to Ausnet Services is a 66KV gantry
25-year generation model
What Would You Like to Know?
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. WHAT IS A SOLAR FARM?
A solar farm is a collection of connected photovoltaic (PV) panels that generate electricity from sunlight. The energy they generate is fed into the power grid or directly to an energy consumer.
2. HOW DOES A SOLAR FARM GENERATE ELECTRICITY?
Solar PV systems use cells to convert sunlight into electricity. The PV cell consists of one or two layers of a semi-conducting material, usually silicon. When light shines on the cell it creates an electric field across the layers causing electricity to flow.
3. WHERE IS THE WANGARATTA SOLAR FARM?
The land being used for this solar farm will be leased directly from the Rural City of Wangaratta (RCW) and is zoned for ‘Industrial’ use. It is located on the Wangaratta-Eldorado Road, adjacent to the North Wangaratta Industrial Estate. The solar farm will be on the western side of the Hume Freeway.
4. HOW BIG IS THE WANGARATTA SOLAR FARM?
The farm is situated on a 30-hectare site. It will comprise around 70,000 photovoltaic (PV) panels that together would generate enough electricity to power 5,000 homes. It will be a 20 megawatt project.
5. ARE THERE OTHER SOLAR FARMS IN VICTORIA?
When completed, the Wangaratta Solar Farm will be the first significant solar installation in Victoria. There are other solar farm proposals for the state, but none have been progressed to the stage of the Wangaratta Solar Farm.
6. WHAT WILL IT COST TO BUILD THE SOLAR FARM?
It is estimated the solar farm will cost around $45 million to construct.
7. WHO IS DEVELOPING THE SOLAR
Countrywide Energy Pty Ltd (CWE), a Victorian company is developing the project. CWE proposed the project to the Rural City of Wangaratta and has progressed its development in collaboration with the council.
8. WHO WILL OWN THE SOLAR FARM?
Ethical investors are keen to own projects like the Wangaratta Solar Farm. They include superannuation funds, green investment funds and other businesses that want to align themselves with projects that address global warming and generate a reasonable return over a long period.
9. WHAT DOES THIS DEVELOPMENT MEAN FOR WANGARATTA?
For a number of reasons, there has been strong support in Wangaratta from interests keen to see this project succeed:
It adds energy security to the area especially when demand for power is high, like on hot summer days
It can provide energy pricing control for customers operating in the Industrial Estate and therefore help them manage costs over the long term to protect their future and the jobs they provide
The development is partly on land leased from the council which has generated no interest for its use from any other venture
It will create new jobs and protect existing jobs because energy pricing will be secure and predictable
Based on the success of the project, further renewable projects can be embraced within the municipality to deliver similar outcomes to other Wangaratta interests
The project comes at no cost to Wangaratta and the council will earn income from renting the solar farm site over the life of the project.
10. WHAT IS THE EXPECTED LIFE OF THE PROJECT?
The solar farm has a life of at least 25 years and the council has agreed to a lease of the land for this period with an option to extend its life.
11. WHO WILL USE THE POWER FROM THE SOLAR FARM?
Its customers will be anyone connected to the national electricity grid including close-by businesses in the Industrial Estate.
12. CAN I BUY MY ELECTRICITY FROM THE SOLAR FARM?
Excess power that is not consumed within the Industrial Estate will be fed into the grid, which is essentially a bucket of electricity that is shared among consumers with electricity generated from other sources. Being close to the solar farm means there is a greater likelihood of your energy being locally produced, but it cannot be guaranteed that what comes from the ‘bucket’ can be identified as being provided by the farm.
13. HOW MANY JOBS WILL THE SOLAR FARM GENERATE?
During construction the project will create around 90 jobs and once the solar farm is commissioned, there will be at least five new jobs. Local businesses will be engaged to support the solar farm during its 25-year life.
14. WHAT IS ON THE SITE OF THE SOLAR FARM AT THE MOMENT AND IS NATIVE VEGETATION AT RISK?
Right now the site of the solar farm is pasture with native trees on the fringes of the block. A few gums stand on the land and a vegetation offset program will be executed to compensate for any trees removed. The council’s environmentalist has advised of the most appropriate trees to plant when new plantings occur.
15. IS THE SITE OF CULTURAL HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE?
The site is located within the Wangaratta Industrial Estate and has been zoned for Industrial use. It is not classed as being within an area of cultural significance nor are there any Heritage overlays associated with this site.
16. WILL THE SOLAR FARM CAUSE ANY GLINT OR GLARE?
The PV panels are designed to absorb light rather than reflect light. They pose little risk of glint or glare, however to ensure there are no adverse effects to the community, particularly to the adjacent Hume Freeway and the Wangaratta-Eldorado Road, CWE will use a tracking system for the panels to allow them to follow the sun as it moves across the sky. This system will ensure the panels do not create a glare on roads alongside the solar farm. In addition CWE will provide landscaped tree screening where necessary alongside the boundaries of the site.
17. WILL THE SOLAR FARM EMIT ANY NOISE?
The PV panels will track the sun through the day, however this form of technology is not noisy and there will be no adverse impact to the community.
18. WILL THE SOLAR FARM INCREASE THE LIKELIHOOD OF FLOOD IN THE AREA?
There is no increased flood risk associated with the installation of the PV panels. The design of the site will take into account any existing drainage requirements for the site and an appropriate stormwater management plan will be designed and installed accordingly.
19. WILL THE SOLAR FARM VISUALLY DOMINATE THE LANDSCAPE?
For aesthetic purposes and to protect the Hume Freeway and Wangaratta-Eldorado Road traffic, landscaped screening will be installed to the northern and eastern boundaries to the site. The Wangaratta-Eldorado Road is already heavily screened with the existing road reserve.
20. WILL THE WANGARATTA LOCAL COMMUNITY BY CONSULTED?
Community consultation will be a key element in the process. Because the lease sought from the Council is greater than 10 years community consultation is required by law. Development Approval has been granted by the Council. CWE will be available to answer any questions about the solar farm either by phone, email or in person when in the area.
21. WHAT DOES THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE SOLAR FARM ENTAIL?
Once the site has been prepared and rainfall drainage planned, construction will mean delivery trucks on the Wangaratta-Eldorado Road and some associated dust. Where possible, employees will be sourced locally and those coming to the area from elsewhere will be accommodated in the Wangaratta area. The construction period will be around 12 months with a start date anticipated to be December this year.
22. WHAT DO I DO IF I HAVE ANY FURTHER CONCERNS?
CWE is happy to hear from you. If the above has not answered your questions or you have any further concerns, please do not hesitate to get in contact with CWE via our ‘Contact Us’ page at www.countrywideenergy.com.au or this site.
January 17, 2017