Loddon Shire Council To Decide On Solar Farm

Bendigo solar farm

Image: BayWa r.e

A meeting of Loddon Shire councillors this afternoon may decide the fate of a proposed BayWa r.e. solar energy project not far from Bendigo in Victoria.

The Shire of Loddon is located in the northern part of Victoria, covering an area of 6,696 square kilometres and home to a population of around 7,500.

BayWa r.e is wanting the go-ahead for a 55MW(ac) facility to be constructed around about eight kilometres east of the town of Bridgewater, with battery storage (capacity not mentioned) to be added post-development.

The project’s chances are looking pretty good with no objections lodged and a recommendation from Loddon Shire’s strategic planner that Council grant a planning permit for the development.

While the site is currently used for farming purposes, it is not considered “high quality” agricultural land. Only three trees will need to be removed and those will be offset in accordance with the State’s requirements.

BayWa r.e. says once endorsed, the Planning Application will be available for download from the project’s web site, which is very light on detail at the moment.

This project has been assessed against the State Government’s Large-Scale Solar Guideline, which was released in July last year in response to some Victorian councils experiencing difficulties in arriving at decisions in relation to solar farm development applications. The situation resulted in a number of cases being referred to the State Government for a final decision.

Large-Scale Solar Energy In Loddon Shire

According to the Australian PV Institute’s map, there are currently three large-scale solar power facilities operating in the Loddon Shire local government area (LGA):

  • Newbridge Solar Plant – 690kW
  • Bridgewater Solar – 500kW
  • Pyramid Salt’s installation at Pyramid Hill – 300kW

Assuming BayWa r.e. gets the green light for its project, it’s unlikely to be the largest solar PV facility in the Loddon LGA – or at least not for long.

Last month Council gave the thumbs up to a 100MW project at Derby, which is also around 8 kilometres from Bridgewater. That project has been a little more controversial than BayWa r.e.’s due to the land involved being considered by some as having higher agricultural value. However, there were only three objections to the project.

An even bigger project is also in the works for the region – South Energy’s Raywood Solar Farm. It’s expected to have a capacity of 200 megawatts and is to be constructed at a site approximately 28 kilometres from Bridgewater – and around the same distance from Bendigo. Assuming that project gets the approvals it needs, construction should kick off late this year.

In addition to large-scale PV, small scale solar power (systems <100kW capacity) has also taken off in the region. An estimated 28.9% of dwellings have solar panels installed – significantly higher than the Victorian statewide average of 17.9%.

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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