Darlington Point will be joining Coleambally in bringing the spotlight to the MIA as a region ripe for renewables following approval of a new solar farm project.
Receiving approvals from the NSW Department of Planning and the Office of Environment and Heritage, Australian firm Edify Energy has announced that it will begin construction for the new solar farm in early 2019.
The solar farm will be located 10 kilometers south of Darlington Point on 975 hectares of land formerly used for dry-land grazing.
“The site was chosen due to its proximity to existing transmission capacity, excellent irradiance (solar resource) and proximity to both robust transport infrastructure and skilled labour, whilst specifically seeking to avoid high value irrigated cropping lands prevalent in the Murrumbidgee region,” Edify’s head of project development Andy Winter.
According to Mr Winter the construction phase of the project will create approximately 400 jobs in Darlington Point and will be relying on local suppliers and service providers.
Five full time permanent positions will be made available when the solar farm is finished.
Up to 275 megawatts of solar photovoltaic electricity will be generated from the site according to Edify.
Following the initial build, Edify say they will also be looking to install of battery technology for energy storage and resupply during peak demand.
According to Mr Winter the farm will have the capacity to supply over 130,000 homes with power.
“This is based on an annual average yield assessment taking account of weather and seasonal impacts, as well as the annual average NSW household electricity consumption,” Mr Winter said.
“Darlington Point substation has direct transmission connections to Wagga, Balranald, Coleambally, Griffith, Hay, Hillston, and Yanco, from each of which distribution feeders supply power to other surrounding towns.”
Mayor of Murrumbidgee Council Ruth McRae, said the project is valued at $400 million.
“There is a community grant that will come back from Edify of up to $350,000 that will be spent in the community,” Cr McRae said.
Cr McRae said the she is hoping that with the new solar farm in Darlington Point more businesses will expand their operations in town and allow new industry to begin moving into the region.
Cr McRae said her biggest source of excitement however, is a likely boon for the local economy following an influx of jobs in Darlington Point during the project’s construction.
According Cr McRae the now completed solar farm at Coleambally created 400 jobs during its construction and greatly benefited businesses in the region.
“We actually did not have one submission speaking against the development when it was on view, people may find that a bit odd,” Cr McRae said.
“It is a dry-land grazing area and not irrigated land, people's concerns with these solar projects is that it is taking away ideal farming land but this is not the case for this project.”
“With it being dry-land we had to be cognitive of the native grasses and the natural environment and the Office of Environment and Heritage have kept those close checks and balances on that.”
This week NSW firm Delta Electricity, the owner of the Vales Point coal fired power station, announced that they would be buying electricity produced by the Solar Farm at Darlington Point.
“Delta recognises that both dispatch-able power and low emission technologies have a role to play in supporting an affordable, reliable and sustainable national electricity market,” Delta’s company secretary Steve Gurney said.
Power from the solar farm will be used to support Delta Electricity’s expanding retail portfolio, help meet its renewable energy target liabilities, and with meeting any potential future forms of emissions compliance.
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