The global transition to renewables is happening and with its sunny plains and windy coastline, Australia is in the box seat to lead the way for clean energy. Closer to home, as coal power generation winds down in across the country, the region has an opportunity to make a new name for itself by welcoming green energy projects.
Taking these factors into account, South Energy came to view Benalla as an ideal solar farm project site, and chose the land for the following reasons:
- The land is flat and does not need clearing
- The site is in a sunny location and is not prone to flooding
- The site is near main roads, lessening the impact on local streets
- An existing high voltage power line is adjacent to the site, enabling seamless connection to the network
- There is enough land to achieve the economies of scale necessary to make the project viable
Solar farms consist of a series of photovoltaic cells arranged in panels and positioned on the land in a ‘solar array’. In the case of West Mokoan Solar Farm, these cells convert sunlight to electricity, with the generated solar current moving through cables to inverters. Inverters convert the cells’ Direct Current (DC) to usable Alternating Current (AC), which flows to an onsite utility substation and on to the national electricity network via Benalla’s existing high voltage powerlines.
The 1m wide by 2m high solar panels used at West Mokoan Solar Farm will be attached to a structure that tracks the sun as it moves across the sky from east to west, maximising sun exposure and power production.
Raised approximately 2m above the ground, the panels will be between 2 to 4m high, with maximum height reached early and late in the day, when the panels are tilted to capture the sun at its lowest. To avoid shading and enable access, the tracking systems will be spaced 8 to 10m apart.
West Mokoan Solar Farm will have:
- Inverters to convert electricity generated from the solar panels from DC to AC
- Internal fire breaks that double as tracks for maintenance vehicles
- Chain mesh steel fences and motion sensor CCTVs for security safety reasons
- A substation to convert generated electricity to a suitable voltage level for the network