A controversial solar energy + battery storage project in the Shire of Mount Alexander in central Victoria has reportedly been given the green light by the state’s planning minister.
Baringhup Solar Farm is an RES Australia development proposed for a site around 2 kilometres west of the small township of Baringhup. Along with the 260,000 solar panels to be installed for the 75MW project, the facility will also feature a lithium-ion battery storage system up to 150MWh capacity according to RES.
We mentioned in May last year the project had met resistance from local landholders and other parties, leaving Mount Alexander Shire Council in a tricky position. Council chose to not decide on the development application and requested the proposed project be “called-in” by Victorian planning minister Richard Wynne, who did so on May 19.
This was followed by public hearings where the community could express their concerns and an assessment by a Planning Panel. Submissions regarding the project closed on June 23.
According to the Bendigo Advertiser, Minister Wynne gave the thumbs up for the project early this week after consideration of community feedback and advice from Planning Panels Victoria. Minister Wynne said Baringhup would create jobs, slash emissions, boost energy production in the state and put downwards pressure on electricity prices.
RES says the construction phase of the project will create around 130 direct jobs and support approximately 210 indirect supply chain jobs. When the plant is operational, it will employ approximately 3 full-time staff members over its 25-30 year service life. There’s also a Community Benefit Fund attached to the project that will pay $125,000 to the local community (population around 200) when construction commences.
The bar had been set high for RES Australia as it is a signatory to the Clean Energy Council’s Best Practice Charter for Renewable Energy Developments. The first point on the Charter is a commitment to engage respectfully with the local community before finalising the design of a project and submitting a development application – and there was a perceived lack of community consultation from some who opposed the project.
2019 A Big Year For RES In Australia
In October this year, RES received approval for its Twin Creek wind farm and energy storage project in the mid-north of South Australia. The 185MW facility, which will boast a 50MW/215MWh battery system, is another RES venture that has seen significant community opposition.