THE company behind a $300-million solar farm near Tilbuster hopes its project is the start of a long and fruitful relationship with the nearby community.
Enerparc is finalising the environmental studies for the 300-megawatt farm, which if approved, would be located about 13km north of Armidale and could to generate 33,000 gigawatt hours by 2020, or enough to power 93,000 homes.
It’s expected to create up to 250 construction jobs, with six operational jobs once completed.
Enerparc managing director Benjamin Hannig said once the environmental studies had been finished, the community consultation process would begin.
“We’re keen to listen to what the community has to say,” Mr Hannig said.
“It’s a key part of the process. We want to a positive start to what we hope will be a 20 to 30 year relationship, and it’s important to start that off on the right foot.
“From our perspective, we are not just the developers, we are also the builders and the operators, so we want a good relationship with locals.”
Currently the 300-hectare block is used for sheep grazing, which Mr Hannig said could continue if the project went ahead.
“It comes down to ensuring the project compliments the existing land use,” Mr Hannig said.
“We’ve also taken in to account the visual impact.
“Even though it’s a very large site, only a handful of receivers would be impacted, as it’s in the Black Mount region and very well hidden from sight.”
The site has two grid connections, which makes the project “more flexible”.
“It gives it a better chance of being a realisation,” he said.
“In case one option turns out to be constrained for one reason or another, we have another connection available.”
The solar farm will also include battery storage technology. Mr Hannig hopes to submit an Environmental Impact Study to the NSW government in the next two months. If it’s given the green light, it’ll take 12 to 18 months to construct.
The state government recently gave the tick of approval to an $82-million solar farm just outside of Narrabri.
The Canadian Solar development is located off Old Gunnedah Road and is expected to create up to 112 construction jobs and five ongoing jobs.