Tamworth Solar Farm Gets Development Consent

Tamworth Solar Farm location

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has given a conditional thumbs-up for a large scale solar power and battery storage project approximately 25 kilometres west of Tamworth.

Tamworth Solar Farm Pty Ltd’s proposed development is to be constructed on single land title of approximately 230 hectares near Somerton, with the development footprint to be around 165 hectares. The land is currently being used for grazing and dryland cropping, and grazing may continue during the clean power station’s operational phase. A few adjacent landholders have already expressed interest in grazing sheep on the property after construction is complete.

The 65MW (AC) facility will consist of approximately 200,000 solar panels mounted on single axis trackers and a 19MW/19MWh battery storage system. A new substation built at the site will connect to the 132 kV Tamworth to Gunnedah transmission line that crosses over the southern part of the site line.

Tamworth Solar Farm is expected to generate 155 gigawatt-hours of clean electricity a year – enough energy to power the equivalent of around 30,000 homes – while avoiding 131,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

The facility has an expected operational lifespan of an initial 30 years, then possibly extended by another 30 years if upgrades are performed. Components of the solar farm will be reused or recycled wherever possible.

According to the proponent, discussions with Tamworth Regional Council have been very positive and supportive of the project, which aligns with one of Council’s stated priorities: “Identify and promote wind, solar and other renewable energy production opportunities”.

The Department received 16 submissions on the project, including 12 from government agencies and 6 from the general public. Of the latter, four were in support of the project, one was a general comment and another was an objection.

Community Benefits

The $104 million project will create up to 200 construction jobs at peak during the envisioned 12-month construction period and approximately 50% of these workers will be local residents. 1 to 2 people are expected to work at the solar farm as permanent staff once it is operational.

Aside from the potential for jobs and related economic activity associated with the project, Tamworth Solar Farm Pty Ltd says it will work with the local community to identify community projects that the company can support. Additionally, 6 households within a 2km radius of the site who will be able to see the solar farm from their homes or yards have been offered a choice of either a 6kW solar system or a home battery for those who already have solar panels installed.

Councils are generally the bodies to approve developments in their local government areas. But Tamworth Solar Farm is considered a State Significant Development given its size and value, so final say fell to the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment. The Tamworth Solar Farm DPIE page can be found here.

In other solar energy news relating to the Tamworth Regional Council area, Council was to decide last night whether it will be making a submission regarding the $5 million Manilla solar project, which will go to the Northern Regional Planning Panel soon. The project, which will consist of 4.5MW of solar PV, a 4.5 MW / 4.5MWh battery system and a 2 MW /17MWh hydrogen energy storage system, scored a  $3.5 million NSW Regional Community Energy Project Fund grant in March this 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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