Infinergy Australia is investigating the feasibility of constructing an 85 MW (estimated) solar farm 13 km northeast of Grafton and 9 km southwest of Lawrence. The general location of the proposal is shown here.
The area of land being investigated for the Solar Farm is shown on the plan below and is known as the study area. The study area has been carefully located on approximately 340 ha of previously cleared and highly modified land. The final location and scale of the proposal will be sensitively designed within the study area in response to detailed environmental assessments and community consultation. The large size of the study area provides plenty of scope to refine and optimise the design of the Solar Farm in order to avoid, minimise and mitigate potential impacts.
Fully constructed, at a scale of 85 MW, the Solar Farm would produce enough energy to power the equivalent of approximately 45,500 average NSW households each year, while reducing annual greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 150,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), based on the current energy mix of the NSW electricity sector.
STUDY AREA LOCATION
At this stage, the proposal would likely include the following elements:
Solar Arrays – The largest component of the solar farm would be the solar arrays. Each panel (approximately 2.2m x 1.1m) would likely be mounted on a single-axis tracking system that follows the sun over the course of the day. At its maximum rotation, the panels would be elevated to a maximum height of 4.0m above the ground. Trackers and panels would be arranged in symmetrical rows aligned north to south.
Screening – A series of native vegetation screens would be planted at visible boundaries of the solar farm to reduce the visibility of the proposal and screen security fencing.
Supporting infrastructure – this would include inverters (which convert the ‘DC’ electricity produced by the panels into grid friendly ‘AC’ electricity); a small substation to connect the solar farm to the existing onsite electricity lines; internal access tracks; security fencing; a battery storage facility; and an operations and maintenance building.
The team is currently working on a Scoping Report to submit to the Department of Planning Industry and Environment (DPIE). The DPIE is the consent authority for SSD renewable energy projects in NSW. The graphic below provides a summary of the SSD approval process. The DPIE will use the Scoping Report to issue Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs) which prescribes the technical studies required to support a formal Development Application for the Proposal. Technical studies are likely to include comprehensive assessments on landscape, noise, ecology, transport, socio-economics and ecology, and are likely to take until at least Autumn 2022.
The technical assessments will demonstrate whether the study area can accommodate a solar farm, and will provide us information to determine the size and scale of any proposal. The team will then continue to revise and improve the layout design based on assessment findings and community feedback.
NSW PLANING PROCESS FOR STATE SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENTS
What is a scoping report?
A Scoping Report provides preliminary information on a project and its potential impacts which is used to support a request for SEARs. The lodgment of a Scoping Report is the first step in a long assessment process (see graphic below), that typically takes up to a year, in preparation for a Development Application. Once we have lodged our scoping report you will be able to download it from our website on the Project Page.
If approved, it is estimated that the Proposal would take approximately 12 months to construct and would be operational for approximately 28 years. Following the operational period, all above ground infrastructure would be removed from the site. The decommissioning process would take approximately 12 months. As such, planning consent for the Proposal is sought for 30 years.
Indicative time-frame for project phases
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