Solar Farm Proposal Called In By Victoria’s Planning Minister

Inverleigh wind and solar project

Image: seagul

Victorian Planning Minister Richard Wynne will reportedly make the final call on a solar farm project proposed for a site near Inverleigh.

The solar farm is part of a larger project called Inverleigh Wind Farm that also features – as the name suggests – wind power, plus energy storage.

The proposed facility is to be located 7km south east of Inverleigh and 10km north east of Winchelsea in Victoria’s Surf Coast Shire. Up to 16 wind turbines with a capacity of 4.8MW each would be installed, along with 16-22MW of solar panels and approximately 12 MW of battery storage.

While the wind farm component decision automatically rested with Minister Wynne, the solar farm approval would have usually fallen to Surf Coast Shire Council.

However, in May this year Council resolved to request Minister Wynne’s involvement in order to avoid duplication of processes and other complications.

“Having people responding on one part of the proposal with us and another part of the proposal with the minister could potentially become unwieldy and confusing,” said Mayor Cr David Bell in May.

The Geelong Advertiser reported (paywall) yesterday that the Minister has agreed to take on the decision.

More Than A Decade In The Making

The project has a history going back to 2007 when it was originally known as the Winchelsea Wind Farm, which would have consisted of 13 turbines.

“The newer wind turbine generators while taller, are much more efficient and quieter than those contemplated when the project was first permitted in 2008,” says project proponent Wind Farm Developments (WFD).

The turbines will have a maximum height of 200 metres.

Part of the reason the project has taken so long to come to fruition is due to setbacks – quite literally. The former Baillieu government introduced 2km setbacks in 2011, which gave households veto power over the construction of wind turbines within two kilometres of their homes. The setback was reduced to 1km in 2015 under the new state Labor Government.

Other issues apparently contributing to delays included uncertainty over Australia’s Renewable Energy Target in 2012.

During a project redesign in 2016/17, co-location of solar power and battery storage was introduced and the solar energy aspect has recently completed its public exhibition period. The Wind Farm Planning Application public exhibition period finished in September.

WFD says total electricity output of the redesigned facility is estimated at 310 GWh annually. The company states Victoria has 17% of national wind capacity and 20% of all wind turbines in Australia – and Inverleigh Wind Farm could lift Victoria’s share by 15%.

The proposed site is currently pastoral land.

WFD has been involved with various wind farm projects in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.

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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