New South Wales approves A$636m solar farm

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The Independent Planning Commission of New South Wales announced that it conditionally approved Neoen Australia’s new large-scale solar farm on the Riverina Region.

The A$636-million Culcairn solar farm is located 4 kilometres southwest of the town of Culcairn and is expected to contribute 350 megawatts of energy to the National Electricity Market, which connects the synchronous electricity transmission grids of the eastern and southern Australian states and territories and creates a cross-state wholesale electricity market.

The Culcairn farm is also expected to include a battery facility with a capacity of 100MW / 200MWh which will enable the project to store solar energy for dispatch to the grid outside daylight hours or during times of peak demand. 

The Culcairn solar farm is expected to contribute 350 megawatts of energy to the National Electricity Market

The Independent Planning Commission was involved in the approval of the project because it received objections from the Greater Hume Council and more than 50 members of the public. Most of their concerns revolved around land-use compatibility, loss of agricultural land, biodiversity and environmental impacts, impacts on neighbouring properties, bushfire risk, ‘heat island’ effect, among other topics.

Following a meeting in which these concerns were voiced, the Commission decided to approve the solar farm subject to a number of conditions designed to prevent, minimize and offset adverse environmental impacts; set standards for acceptable environmental performance; outline how the land will be returned to its current use following decommissioning and rehabilitation of the site; require regular monitoring and reporting; and provide for the ongoing environmental management of the development.