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CVC considers ‘solar farm’ to meet its renewable energy target

Geoff Helisma

Clarence Valley Council (CVC) is a step closer towards meeting its 2030 greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy targets.

Councillors unanimously decided at the November 2018 CVC meeting, to: “1. Adopt a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (excluding landfill emissions), by 40 per cent [compared to] 2016/17 levels, by 2030, with the long-term goal to reach zero net emissions by 2050;

  1. Adopt a target of supplying 50 per cent of CVC’s electricity demand from renewable energy sources by 2030, with the long-term goal to source all electricity from renewable energy; and,
  2. Implement measures outlined in the 100% Renewables report to meet its renewable energy target by 2022/23.

Subsequently, 100% Renewables was re-engaged “to undertake a preliminary investigation into a mid-scale solar farm on a site located at the Grafton Regional Landfill & Resource Recovery Facility,” the report to the June 22 CVC meeting stated.

“The proposed 3.5 ha site will not be developed for landfill purposes and is adjacent to a 11kV power line, making it suitable for a solar farm project.

“Preliminary investigation was commenced under the current year’s Operational Plan.”

Staff summarised the current 100% Renewables report’s preliminary investigation of the site, which found it “to be suitable for the development of a mid-scale solar farm”.

The “mostly flat terrain” of the site was found to: be close to 66kV and 11kV distribution lines; contain north-east facing land with limited shading; have high monthly mean daily global solar irradiation; have close proximity to road infrastructure; and, be able to provide multiple design opportunities.

Significantly, the 3.5 hectare site has the capacity to be developed into a 4.2 MW solar farm, able produce 6,024 megawatt hours per annum of CVC’s electricity, which would be equivalent to 52.93 per cent of CVC’s electricity demand, and reduce emissions by 5,422 tonnes of carbon dioxide (equivalent) or 38 per cent of CVC’s current emissions footprint.

“Mid-scale solar farms typically have capacities between 100kW to 5MW … [and can] create local jobs, could be used to help the community invest in renewables, or could be used to meet some of Council’s energy needs and emissions reduction targets,” the 100% Renewables report states.

Meanwhile, the “2021/22 draft operational plan makes provision for $100,000 to undertake the proposed detailed feasibility study and develop tender documentation”.

“This study will address long term maintenance and operation costs, with a firm understanding of potential returns on investment,” staff wrote in the report to council.

“At this point the project is anticipated to have a 10-year payback with an operational life of between 25 and 30 years.

“…The next step will be to develop a detailed feasibility report, which will include a detailed business case to ensure all risks are identified and addressed prior to going to construction.”

Note: this story was written prior to councillors adopting staff’s recommendation to “receive and note the report”.

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