Proposed NSW Solar + Storage Facility On The Fast-Track

Yanco Solar Farm

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian yesterday announced another 19 projects will have their assessments fast-tracked through the Planning System Acceleration Program; one of which is a solar farm.

Part of a NSW COVID-19 economic recovery response, the Program seeks to cut red tape and accelerate assessment processes to boost the state’s construction pipeline and fast-track construction of new projects.

In order to be considered for the program, a development application or rezoning must already be in the state’s system, the project must deliver a public benefit, and create construction and ongoing jobs. For a State Significant Development, the project must be able to commence construction within six months.

A PV project that scored a guernsey yesterday is Germany’s Ib Vogt’s Yanco Solar Farm – the first large-scale solar energy facility to be included in the program. The proposed 72MW (DC) / 60MW (AC) facility, which will also include battery storage, is to be built around 5 kilometres south of Leeton on the outskirts of the town of Yanco.

When we last checked in with the project in April 2019, it was just beginning its exhibition period. The NSW Major Projects site currently shows it as being in the assessment phase.

The World’s Most Powerful Solar Panels?

This month, an amendments document was lodged for the project, indicating Ib Vogt is now considering using solar panels with a higher wattage than was originally anticipated during preliminary design stages. The total capacity of Yanco Solar Farm will remain the same, but the number of solar panels installed will be reduced from approximately “20,500” to “17,000” modules.

This works out to the new panels being around 4,200 watts each. But such a beast of a panel doesn’t yet exist, nor will it ever. It’s safe to assume a couple of typos came into play and that should have read from *205,000* down to *170,000* solar panels; making the modules a much more modest (and readily available) ~420 watts each.

The reduction in the number of solar panels will mean one lot of land – which currently hosts a well-established orange orchard – won’t be touched.

As for battery storage, the number of inverter stations and battery units has been reduced from 17 back to 14. There still doesn’t appear to be any indication as to what sort of capacity the battery storage aspect involves.

On the employment side of things, up to 120 direct jobs would be created during the construction phase and 2-3 full time positions during Yanco Solar Farm’s 25 – 30 year operational phase.

Ib Vogt had originally hoped to gain development approval mid to late last year and  wanted to get cracking on construction early this year, so news of inclusion has no doubt been well-received by the company. What remains to be seen is if the project gets a green light, as inclusion in the program doesn’t guarantee a successful outcome.

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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