The 300 MW Walla Walla Solar Farm became the first large-scale PV project to be approved in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) since the recent passage of the NSW Renewable Infrastructure bill.
Fotowatio Renewable Ventures (FRV) is developing the project at a site about 40 km north of Albury-Wodonga. It acquired the development rights from Bison Energy in 2019. The project was referred to the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) for determination “due to opposition from Greater Hume Shire Council and the local community,” according to an IPC statement.
With its capacity to supply up to 90,000 NSW homes and businesses, the project was considered by the IPC as part of the State Significant Development Approvals Scheme.
“Walla Walla Solar Farm is a state significant project by definition,” said FRV Australia Managing Director Carlo Frigerio. “We are very pleased we will now be able to proceed to private financing and construction.”
The developer has calculated that Walla Walla Solar Farm will boost the local economy by creating around 250 construction jobs. Last week, the IPC granted development consent, subject to certain conditions. The conditions “have been designed to prevent, minimize and/or offset adverse environmental impacts; set standards and performance measures for acceptable environmental performance,” and “outline how the land can be returned to its current use following decommissioning and rehabilitation of the site,” the IPC said.
“We have worked exceptionally hard to ensure plans for Walla Walla Solar Farm reflect a balanced and considerate design that will provide a strategically important new source of clean energy for NSW while protecting the amenity of nearby residents,” said Tarek Al Sampaile, head of project development of FRV Australia.
The project will be built over 605 hectares of private land leased from two separate landowners. The site, between the towns of Walla Walla and Culcairn, was selected for its high levels of solar radiation throughout the year. FRV said it recognizes the importance of building in the right locations, in order to sustain network stability and reliability and achieve connection.
“Walla Walla Solar Farm is situated in the Albury region, in close proximity to the backbone of the NSW transmission network, capable of transferring power to and from Victoria and South Australia,” Frigerio told pv magazine.
In a separate development, Spanish EPC contractor GRS said that the 39 MW Molong Solar Farm in Central West New South Wales has been successfully energized. Molong Solar Farm, which consists of 80,088 solar modules along with 1,481 trackers and is owned by global renewable energy infrastructure manager AMP, successfully delivered its first output last week, putting it on the fast road to grid connection tests and eventually the real deal.
“We are very active in the Australian photovoltaic market,” said GRS Australia’s managing director, Carlos López.
Spanish companies are popping up all over Australia’s renewable energy industry. STI Norland, Fotowatio Renewable Ventures, X-Elio, Iberdrola, Elecnor, and E22 are among the Spanish companies that have announced projects in Australia in recent months.
For the full story, please visit our pv magazine Australia website.
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