Bookaar Solar Farm In The Spotlight

Bookar Solar Farm
A planning permit application lodged for a 200MW solar farm near Camperdown in Victoria has locals taking an interest – positive and otherwise.

Bookaar Solar Farm is proposed for a site approximately 10 kilometres north-west of the town, which is around 190 kilometres west of Melbourne.

The facility will consist of 700,000 – 800,000 solar panels mounted on single axis tracking systems and up to 60 central inverters. A one-hectare area has been designated for battery storage, but capacity hasn’t been noted.

Bookaar Solar Farm will generate enough electricity to provide the equivalent consumption of 80,000 Victorian households, while avoiding 450,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually.

During the expected 12 month build time, 150 people would be employed; with 8-12 full time staff once operations.

The project’s planning permit application report can be downloaded here (PDF). Corangamite Shire Council will discuss the proposal at their next meeting in September and will take into account concerns that have been raised by some in the community in arriving at a decision.

It’s not as though residents of Camperdown and the surrounding community are anti-solar per se – there are around 295 small scale solar power systems in the 3260 postcode (population around 4,800). Some have raised common concerns associated with large scale renewable energy developments such as aesthetics, use of agricultural land, glare, noise and traffic during construction. While Bookaar Solar Farm will be 10 kilometres outside of town, there are 6 potentially affected properties within 1 kilometre of the site and 18 within 1.5 kilometres.

An initial information session was held in 2018 and some of the concerns raised have been addressed in the above-mentioned application report.

The project applicant is Bookaar Solar Farm Pty. Ltd., a joint venture partnership between the landowners of the proposed site and Infinergy Pacific. Making the situation a little tricky is a member of the landowner’s family is also a Councillor, however, she won’t be involved in the application decision.

Infinergy says it is currently developing a pipeline of around 300 megawatts of solar projects in Australia, with the other facility being the Metz Solar Farm east of Armidale (~100MW). That project received AEMO and Transgrid grid-connection approval last month and it’s anticipated construction will commence early next year.

Infinergy Pacific is a subsidiary of UK-based Infinergy Limited, which has been involved with the development of more than 30 onshore wind and solar energy projects in the UK and the Netherlands over the last decade with a collective capacity of approximately 1GW.

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.

Comments

  1. I go past hundreds or even thousands of panels on a daily basis and I can’t remember ever needing to shield my eyes from the glare, although admittedly they’re all roof mounted. Is this ever a genuine concern for large ground-mounted systems? Do you know if there are any relevant studies on the impact?

    I would have to imagine the other concerns are minor…

    Aesthetics: does a coal power plant look prettier?

    Construction noise and traffic: isn’t this an issue with any building?

    Land value (not in this article but I saw something similar on the ABC news site): surely here land value is mostly based on agricultural utility, not on unspoilt views of the rolling plains? How do the panels next door impact cows or carrots or whatever?

    • chuckufarley says

      You cannot compare a few roof top panels to 700,000 panels in a 15000 acre area – that’s 423 panels per household in Camperdown population 4230 the place where this Solar Plant is being purposed!

      Aesthetics – they are not planning a coal power plant! – would be many more objections to that!

      The area is low on the scale of PV & would be better suited north of the divide – that is the major argument!.

      The land is prime agricultural land bordered by 2 dairy – 2 sheep/cropping farms – currently is one of the major food bowls in drought ridden Australia.

      The area has volcanic plane views from Camperdown which sits on the side of a northern outlook (looking towards the solar plant) – this farm is located 8klm’s away & will be almost twice as big as the town.

      The company Infinergy has put a planning application through the local shire which one of the former Councillors (who has now become part of the Liberal party) is part ownership of this venture.

      The permit has many holes in it and at an information session held yesterday- (the only session held inviting all locals 3 days before objections can be made)

      many questions were left unanswered.

      The company had two representatives that had no documentation, would only give 5 minutes to questions were quite rude & kept contradicting themselves.

      They have not specified the type of panels or inverter’s

      They do not have a current grid connection

      They have not addressed a full fire plan with the CFA it is still being drafted – (Camperdown was nearly wiped out by a fire early on in the year) cable connections fail in the environment they are subject to!

      They are using cheap Chinese steel manufactured supports instead of Australian steel which could be locally manufactured – this would create more jobs.

      Construction traffic – 190 vehicles movements down a country bus/farm movement route with a very dangerous intersection.

      Infinergy Energy had a similar solar plant in NSW & once planning approved sold to a Chinese company (who will probably not dismantle & restore the land at end of life)

      A lot of these Solar farms that are hitting Australia have been ill prepared & seem more interested in taking the easy taxpayer money from the Federal Gov incentives also they using superannuation funds as collateral.

      Local councils are very ill prepared for structures of this scale & do not have the resources to address the issues.

      Instead of rushing through with these large scale structures we should be manufacturing our own panels/mounts/putting in transmission lines to low grade land regions with decent PV generation capacity & areas which are not going to just benefit the few landholders but the country!

  2. Read closely the words in the Bookar Solar Farm Planning Permit Application:

    3.2.4 Battery
    As shown in Figure 5 the Proposal has been designed to allow the connection of a battery storage facility to store electricity during peak operation periods and to release electricity during periods of high grid demand. The battery storage area would be located within the area denoted on Figure 5, and would likely be 4m high, however has been accessed as being up to 8m high in the Landscape and Visual Impact assessment, in order to present a worst-case scenario and accommodate potential advances in technology. Storage facilities are scalable and typically are housed in shipping containers, or look similar to shipping containers. A typical battery storage solution is shown in Figure 6.

    Look again: “has been designed…”, “would be located…”.

    So, what they are really saying is that they are NOT providing any sort of storage; ie they just want to be able to supply power when the sun shines and leave it to the long-suffering tax payer to foot the cost of storage. All that guff about height is just there to divert attention from the fact that there is NO STORAGE actually being provided.

    That is why this application, and all like it which exclude provision of storage, should be opposed on the grounds of social irresponsibility.

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