Plans to build what could be Victoria’s largest solar farm – and potentially a contender for powering Melbourne’s tram network – are gaining momentum, with the launch of a local government tender to develop a utility-scale project near Shepparton, in the state’s north.
Greater Shepparton City Council is calling for expressions of interest from parties wishing to lease Goulburn Vally Link land in the rural town of Mooroopna to host a major solar farm. Tenders must be submitted by March 1.
As reported in Shepparton News this month, the local Goulburn Valley Environment Group had previously earmarked the site as a potential solar farm, with the potential to meet an energy shortfall in Tatura and to restore the region’s label as a solar city.
The council voted in September to cast the net for parties seeking to lease the land east of Toolamba Rd and the railway line for construction and use as a solar farm after receiving significant interest.
In an interview with Country News, GV Community Energy chairman Kevin Simpson said he believed the solar farm had the potential to be the state’s largest, producing enough energy for ‘‘big users’’.
‘‘We’re talking in megawatts,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s not clear in the end what role we would play in that. We’ll look closely at what they’re offering. I imagine we’d be responding to that expression of interest when it comes available.’’
In a separate interview with Shepparton News just last week, GV Community Energy chief executive Geoff Lodge suggested the proposed Mooroopna solar farm could be a strong contender a separate tender launched by the Victorian government two weeks ago, for a large-scale solar farm to supply the state’s tram network.
As reported here, Victoria’s Andrews government has called for 75MW of large-scale solar to be constructed in the northwest of the state, with 35MW of the the new capacity to be “linked to” Melbourne’s tram network.
Lodge told the paper the Greater Shepparton City Council proposal to create a large-scale solar farm was compatible with the proposal.
‘‘Look at the conditions, look at the weather,’’ he said, while confirming that GV Community Energy was tendering for the proposed Mooroopna solar project.
Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed is also keen to make the connection.
“‘I’ll be speaking to the government about looking to the Shepparton district as an ideal place for that energy to be produced,’’ she said. ‘‘Our proximity to Melbourne, together with the sunlight we have … (it) should be a consideration.’’
According to the local paper, council officers expect a solar development in the region to strengthen community awareness of sustainable energy, generate a long-term stream of income from the lease and generate employment opportunities for local contractors and businesses.
A panel of officers will assess interest submitted against a selection criteria.
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