Solar plans power on
Plans to build a $150 million solar farm in Benger have cleared the first hurdle in the development process, paving a clear path for the South West to become a clean-energy leader.
It marks a significant step for east coast-based company South Energy which also plans a $250 million solar farm near Waroona.
Harvey Shire Council voted to advertise the Benger Solar Farm proposal for public comment.
The Benger proposal would see solar panels installed on 187ha of agricultural land on Campbell Road, near Partridge Road and Wellesley Road North.
This is about 5km from Albemarle’s lithium refinery currently under construction in the Kemerton Industrial Area.
The property, yet to be purchased by South Energy, has historically been used for grazing livestock and is located in an intensive farming zone.
The solar panels would cover only 30 to 50 per cent of the land and allow sheep grazing underneath.
South Energy project manager Baifu Du said the site carried a potential production capacity of about 100MW, or enough energy to power 35,000 households once connected to the Western Power grid.
“The councillors and the development services committee are supportive of the proposal as they can see the various benefits this prospective project could bring to the community and the greater region,” Mr Du said.
The proposal would then go to a Joint Development Assessment Panel for consideration.
“Given the scale of the proposal, after the advertising period a further report will be brought to council,” Harvey shire chief executive officer Annie Riordan said.
“The application proposes a Renewable Energy Facility operating approximately 265,200 solar PV panels on a single-axis tracking system.”
South Energy submitted plans to Waroona Shire Council for a 300ha solar farm on Landwehr Road, 11km south-west of Waroona, with potential production capacity of about 165MW, or enough energy to power 60,000 homes.
In its initial development phase the Benger plant could be fully operational by 2022.
The anticipated 12-to-18-month construction phase of the project would create more more than 250 jobs.
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