Movement At The Station – Morwell Solar Farm

Morwell Solar Farm

The public notification period for a solar farm incorporating battery storage on the outskirts of the Victorian coal town of Morwell recently kicked off.

To be situated across two sites off Tramway Parade in Hazelwood North, around 5 kilometres south of the Morwell township, the proposed Morwell Solar Farm is to be a 70MW facility with a 5-30 MW battery storage system installed in stage two. The clean power station will connect to the grid via the Morwell Terminal Station, with connecting cables to be run underground so as to not add to existing overhead lines.

To consist of up to 230,000 solar panels, the project will avoid 146,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum compared to the equivalent energy output from coal. And on that note, Morwell Solar Farm will help fill the void left by decommissioned power stations – Hazelwood in the past and Yallourn in the not-too-distant future.

During construction of the $102 million project, it’s anticipated more than 100 jobs will be created. During the facility’s 30-year operational phase, a further 20 part-time job opportunities would be created; principally maintenance staff and technicians.

Solar Energy + Grazing

The proposed sites are currently being utilised for grazing and it’s expected this activity will continue should the project go ahead. Panels will be lifted 0.8 metres off the ground to allow for grazing underneath.

Solar farm developers are increasingly realising that “agrovoltaics” – blending solar energy generation with agriculture – is a good way to win hearts and minds of local communities, and to get projects over the approvals line.

Another proposed large-scale solar power project in the Latrobe City Council local government area, Frasers Solar Farm, met community opposition due in part to concerns over the removal of agricultural land1.

Morwell Solar Farm project proponent ARP Australian Solar Pty Ltd has conducted a full stakeholder and community consultation and said it only recorded one direct negative response during the second public consultation drop-in event in March last year.

This has been a long process for ARP Australian Solar, as is often the case with getting solar farms approved. The firm had originally hoped to start construction in early 2019, and then progress was held up again last year due to the COVID situation. At this point, ARP is hoping approvals will be finalised by August this year with view to construction commencing early 2022 and taking around 9 months to complete.

Further details on Morwell Solar Farm can be found here.

ARP Australian Solar is part of the UK-headquartered AR Partners group of companies.

Footnotes

  1. Frasers Solar Farm was subsequently approved by Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne last year
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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