French renewables developer Neoen has unveiled yet more big solar plans for Australia, with a proposal to build a 200MW PV plant in Bathurst, New South Wales.
The solar project, which is at the very early stages of planning and community engagement, would produce enough power for almost 100,000 homes and create around 230 jobs during construction.
According to the local newspaper, Neoen has planned an informal drop-in session for later this month to give the local community a chance to learn more about the project, which at this stage is being called the Windradyne solar farm.
“Community drop-in sessions are a great way to keep the community informed, meet members of the project team, ask lots of questions and take an information booklet home for friends and family,” project manager Anne Frederic was quoted as saying in the Western Advocate.
“Community members will also have an opportunity to suggest a different name for the project and vote for their preferred name. Neoen … will provide regular opportunities for input and updates as the project progresses.”
An online survey is also being conduction by Neoen, to get a reading on local attitudes to the solar project, which is proposed for construction on a property in Eglinton – a northern suburb of Bathurst.
The survey also offers the opportunity for community members to weigh in on the yet-to-be finalised name of the project. Neoen says the current front-runner, Windradyne, was chosen honour of a local Aboriginal warrior from the early 1800s.
Interestingly, an editorial published in the Western Advocate on Tuesday appears to be in favour of the project, arguing it “can surely only be a good thing for our city – and the Earth.”
The column, written by editor Murray Nicholls, wonders if Neoen is anticipating much of a backlash from the proposed project’s neighbours, considering it is 50 per cent bigger than the solar farm proposed by Photon for Brewongle, which remains in limbo with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.
As the editorial notes – and as RenewEconomy reported back in 2017 – that project has struggled to overcome opposition from nearby landholders, and also sparked controversy due to the proposed site being owned by relatives of local Bathurst MP Paul Toole.
“And that’s a shame,” writes Nicholls, “because solar power seems such a good fit for our region.
“But any major development needs at least some level of support from the neighbours to be viable in the long term.
“The Brewongle experience suggests that even with strong community support it will be several years before the Eglinton solar farm is operational,” the editorial continues.
“But now is not the time for our region to be knocking back the potential for a multi-million dollar development without first giving it real thought.”
Elsewhere in Australia, Neoen is currently developing a massive 400MW solar farm with 150MW battery storage in Queensland’s Western Downs region, while in NSW it has completed the 150MW Coleambally solar project near Griffith in the state’s south-west and smaller projects in Dubbo, Parkes and Griffith.
It also operates the Numurkah solar farm in Victoria, is completing the Bungala wind and battery project in Victoria, and owns the Hornsdale wind farm and big battery in South Australia, with a growing pipeline that includes Goyder South, Crystal Brook, and the Kaban Energy Hub.
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