Spanning across approximately 470 hectares of land, the West Mokoan Solar Farm will be located about 8km north-east of the Benalla township.
With a proposed capacity of up to 190 megawatts, the solar farm is expected to generate enough clean energy to supply 68,000 homes with electricity. This will assist Australia in minimising carbon emissions by 400,000 tonnes per year.
The project is currently under development and is envisaged to commence construction in 2021 and be fully operational in late 2022.
SOLAR FARM DESIGN
West Mokoan Solar Farm will comprise solar panels similar to those found on ordinary residential homes. Individual panels will be approximately 1m wide by 2m high and will be attached to single axis tracking systems that follow the sun from east to west, maximising sun exposure and power production.
Raised approximately 2m above the ground, the panels will be between 2 and 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 approximately 8m apart, which means they will only cover about half of the available land.
These large gaps between the solar panels (not to mention the 2m of space beneath them) can be put to agricultural uses such as sheep grazing. This practice has become commonplace globally, with sheep thriving in the sheltered conditions.
A landscape buﬀer will be provided along the project boundary to protect the area’s visual amenity. Landscaping will include a mix of indigenous shrubs and trees of varied heights and will have the added beneﬁt of creating important new habitats for native fauna, thus supporting the region’s biodiversity.
The solar farm will be set back from the boundary. This includes landscape buﬀering and an additional ﬁrebreak, which will double as an internal access track.
HOW WILL THE PROJECT OPERATE?
The West Mokoan Solar Farm will be made up of solar panels that are not dissimilar from those found in your average home. These panels, however, will be fastened to single-axis structures that will move from East to West as the day goes on, tracking the suns position throughout the day. This guarantees the highest level of efficiency possible from the panels.
For compatibility with our electrical grid, electricity generated from the solar panels will be transferred to inverters, converting Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC). Its next phase is to go through transformers where its voltage is stepped up to meet the electricity network requirements. After that, the energy is ready to be fed into the grid as well as the National Electricity Market (NEM) – the current supporter of 80% of Australia’s electricity and one of the largest electrical networks in the world.
The addition of this new solar farm will bring empowerment and economic growth to the local community. Our continual dialogue with the local residents, community organisations, council and authorities ensures that all opinions and ideas are heard and considered by the project. We appreciate the feedback from the local community and strive to work in conjunction with them to further relations.
Furthermore, we have undergone a variety of in-depth environmental assessments and engineering studies to pinpoint any potential hazards to the environment and provide proper mitigation measures before moving forward. These include, but are not limited to:
- Ensuring the development will benefit the municipality in the long term, and not hinder it in anyway:
- Glint and glare impact;
- Traffic conditions;
- The visual impact on the landscape;
- Management of cultural and heritage sites;
- Protecting the local ecology (both flora and fauna) by managing environmental risks;
- Surface water evaluations to ensure the integrity of the existing watercourse;
- Visual landscaping and using vegetation as natural screening from the surrounding area.
|Commence consultation and landowner agreement||Ongoing|
|Submit Development Application to The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning||November 2019|
|Commence construction (subject to Department approval)||2021|
|West Mokoan Solar Farm operational||2022|
|Reinstall full agricultural use or, if permitted, upgrade solar farm equipment||2050-2055|