$1.5 Million Solar Funding Boost For Cabonne Shire

Cabonne Shire solar energy project

New South Wales’ Cabonne Council can look forward to much cheaper electricity bills thanks to Resources for Regions funding.

Cabonne Shire is a local government area in the Central West region of New South Wales, around 3.5 hours drive from Sydney and Canberra. It’s home to close to 14,000 people who live in towns including Eugowra, Manildra and Molong. While a comparatively small council in terms of population served, it has pretty hefty energy bills. In 2019, the organisation forked out around $592,000 for electricity.

Back in 2020, Council adopted a Renewable Energy Action Plan (REAP) and also committed to moving forward with investigating the potential for a medium-scale solar farm to help power its operations.

Close to three years on and the latter will go ahead with a helping hand from the NSW State Government. NSW Nationals Upper House MP Sam Farraway said the $1.5 million in funding will support planning and construction of a “mid-scale solar and battery plant” at Eugowra.

“This project is just another example of our unwavering commitment to enhance our communities and boost our local economies.” said Mr. Farraway.

Cabonne Council Aiming For 50% Renewables By 2030

So, how big is “mid-sized”? That wasn’t clear from the announcement, but a document associated with a development application refers to construction and operation of a $4 million 4MW (AC) solar farm – and the proponent is Cabonne Shire Council. The proposed site is at 255 Casuarina Drive, Eugowra; which is a couple of kilometres from the outskirts of the town’s residential area.

The application notes an intention to source panels from a “Global Tier 1” supplier. “Tier 1” refers to the measure of the ‘bankability’ or financial strength of a solar panel manufacturer. While a panel supplier may not have been settled on yet, it looks like an inverter supplier has already been chosen – Sungrow.

The mounting system to be used for the proposed project is a little different to most solar farms. It will use a PEG system, which consists of steel rods driven into the ground to which a steel frame is attached that the solar panels are affixed to. Here’s what that looks like:

PEG mounting system

As for battery storage, it seems that may not be part of the first stage of this project; although the new funding may change things. The abovementioned document states:

“The feasibility assessment of the project to date has identified that a power storage unit is not economically feasible for the scale of this site and the purpose of the power generation.”

Battery or not from the get-go, the project will have a significant positive impact.

“The project will fund electricity costs across all of Council’s 85 sites, which will result in lower hiring fees for community and sporting group accessing these facilities, and help to position the region as a leader in sustainability,” said Cabonne Shire Council Mayor Kevin Beatty.

Cabonne wasn’t the only local government to score cash for solar from Round 9 of Resources For Regions. Another was Mid-Western Regional Council, which has been awarded $4.5 million for its solar power project – a 5MW facility that has been in the pipeline for a couple of years.

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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