Proposed solar power farms could generate sustainable power and jobs for Western NSW communities including Gilgandra, Warren and Walgett, reports NSW Minister for Resources, Energy and Utilities Don Harwin.
The state government has announced that 12 proposed new solar farms are in the “state planning pipeline”, one of them capable of snatching the title of the biggest plant in the southern hemisphere from the Nyngan Solar Farm.
The state government has approved 11 solar farms since 2011 with three of them operational at Nyngan, Moree and Broken Hill.
The Nyngan Solar Farm generates 100 megawatts (MW) for 32,000 homes, but a project at Balranald may outperform it.
Minister for Planning and Housing Anthony Roberts said the proposed Sunraysia Solar Farm near the Riverina town of Balranald would “produce double the solar energy of Nyngan”.
Projects formally instructed in the past year on preparing an environmental impact statement include the Gilgandra Solar Farm, Nevertire Solar Farm and Walgett Solar Farm.
“NSW is continuing to lead with solar research and innovation, and we are maximising investment in order to reach the national renewable energy target of 23.5 per cent by 2020,” Mr Roberts said.
“Our aim is for a secure, reliable, affordable and clean energy future and projects such as these are great opportunities that enable us to deliver on this.”
Mr Roberts and Mr Harwin said the proposed solar farms would lead to jobs, investment in regional communities and “significant benefits for the state”.
“If approved, these proposals could generate sustainable power and local jobs for towns such as Gilgandra, Hillston, Narrabri, Armidale, Coleambally, Gulgong, Walgett, Jemalong, Balranald, Nyngan and Hay,” Mr Harwin said.
“The Nyngan Solar Farm alone created 250 construction jobs and provided $330 million in investment.
“Strengthening the state’s energy security, and developing economic opportunities and boosting jobs in our regions are priorities for this government. When we make this happen through renewable energy projects it’s a win-win for NSW.”
The 11 solar farms already approved have a combined capacity of 660 MW, enough power for 200,000 homes.
The 12 proposed solar farms would generate more than 1000 MW for 365,000 homes.