More Large-Scale Solar For Far North Queensland – Atherton Solar Farm

Atherton Solar Farm

An application for a solar farm near Tolga in Queensland is currently in its public notification phase.

Tolga is a town with a population of around 2,800 situated in the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland, within the Tablelands Regional Council local government area.

The application is for a development permit for a Material Change of Use to facilitate the construction of a solar farm and substation at 166 Marnane Road.

Atherton Solar Farm will be an 81MWdc/60MWac  project (at this stage), projected to generate 158 gigawatt-hours of clean electricity a year (my rough calculations put it at around 142GWh).

According to a Cairns Post article (paywall) around 240,000 solar panels will be installed – that works out to the panels being a bit under 340 watts each based on a plant size of 81MW.

The entire facility will be surrounded by vegetation a minimum of 3 metres high to screen it from the road and surrounding area, as the proposed facility will be quite close to residences. While the proposed site is 128 hectares, only 76 hectares will be occupied by solar panels.

The developer says more than 50 jobs would be created during the construction phase of the facility and a crew of 5 – 8 staff will be required for ongoing operations.

The developer and operator will be Atherton Solar Farm Pty Ltd , which was incorporated a year ago today. While the web site states it will also be the owner, the owner of Atherton is NESI Australia – whose parent company is Qingdao New Energy Solutions Inc. (NESI).

NESI Australia has two other projects in Australia under development and with Atherton Solar Farm included, their collective capacity will be 180MW. The parent company says it has 1GW of solar farms globally, most of which are located in China. It looks like Qingdao New Energy Solutions were also manufacturing solar panels at one stage.

All going well,  construction of Atherton Solar Farm is planned to commence early in the third quarter of this year and the facility will take 14 months to build. The company says negotiations with Energy Queensland in relation to a required 66kV Connection Agreement are in their final stages.

More information can be viewed here and the application here. The comment period for the application is open until April 5.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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