THE PLANNING minister is considering a bid for a five megawatt solar farm north of Bendigo capable of powering 1000 homes per year. The Goornong farm would be part of a pioneering plan to build a network of projects small enough to avoid some of the region's more productive farming land. ACEnergy and its subsidiary Goornong Solar Farm Pty Ltd want to build a "micro solar farm" similar to another similar sized plant in Raywood. More news: Both farms would be part of a wider network flagged for areas including Echuca, Stanhope, Girgarre, Numerkah, Katamatite, Tatura, Shepparton and Wungnu. The combined network would produce the same amount of energy as a large scale solar farm but be built on smaller parcels of land. In Goornong's case, the panels would rise in one of the less productive areas of a working farm. Unlike at larger facilities, power would not be exported out of the area to Melbourne or other large regional cities, ACEnergy told planning minister Richard Wynne in its Goornong planning application. Instead, the farm's 16,511 solar panels would power the nearby electricity grid. "The proposal will allow the farmer to continue to farm for the duration of the lease period, as well as providing a supplementary income to strengthen resilience of the existing property through diversification, as well as contributing to a net community benefit in the form of renewable energy," ACEnergy's planning consultants wrote in the planning application. ACEnergy had found at previous sites that similar-sized solar farms could support 30 to 50 head of sheep, subject to weather conditions and availability of grass. The solar farm's small footprint also limited the risk land could be damaged when equipment was installed or decommissioned over the 30 years ACEnergy wanted to lease it. The project would be visible from the Midland Highway, which is a major transport corridor for those travelling between Bendigo and Shepparton. ACEnergy said there would be no glare off of the panels because they were designed to be non reflective. "Any reflection of sunlight significantly impacts the capacity of the facility through lost sunlight capture," its consultants wrote. The site would hardly be visible from the road, they said, because "views to the facility ... from fast-moving traffic are expected to be brief and largely obscured by established trees in the road reserve and landscape screening to the perimeter fence of the facility." The solar farm could offset about 11,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.