A 275MW solar farm backed by 100MWh of battery storage has been green-lighted for development near Griffith in New South Wales Riverina district, capping off what has been a massive two years for big solar in the state.
The NSW Department of Planning and Environment said on Wednesday that it had approved the $407 million project – the state's 49th in total – proposed for Darlington Point by Australian renewables outfit Edify Energy.
Resource Assessments Director, Clay Preshaw, said the Edify project – which received no submissions opposing its development – would add to the growing hub of solar energy projects established in the area.
Its nearest solar neighbour is Neoen's 150MW Coleambally solar farm which, since its completion last month, has been setting records
as the biggest operating PV project in the country, so far.
Also in the region is ESCO Pacific's 170MW Finley Solar Farm, which was the first NSW PV project to get approval in 2018, and in July inked a seven-year power purchase agreement with BlueScope Steel
, which agreed to take the bulk of its output to power its Port Kembla steelworks.
Edify's 275MW Darlington project, which also has approval for a 100MWh battery storage system, will be sited on grazing land adjacent to TransGrid's Darlington Point substation at Donald Ross Drive.
'This is a multi-million project that will power over 130,000 homes each year, boost the local economy, provide up to 300 jobs during and after construction, as well as increasing electricity capacity and helping to cut greenhouse emissions,' Preshaw said in comments on Wednesday.
'The project has been assessed on its merits, under planning legislation and clear official policies to consider any potential benefits or impacts to the environment, the economy and the community.'
Preshaw said the project approval followed the release of a new Large-Scale Solar Energy Guideline developed by the Department and designed to lead applicants and the community through the assessment process for state significant solar farm proposals.
It also follows the state Coalition government's November unveiling of a plan to upgrade the state's electricity grid
, to accommodate the 'flood' of new renewable energy capacity in the development pipeline.
The plan, called the Transmission Infrastructure Strategy, will increase grid capacity in three key energy zones in the state's central-west, south west and New England regions – the latte two of which, as we noted at the time, are home to the current and former heads of the National Party.
'The new guideline reflects the NSW Government's strong commitment to NSW'S booming solar energy market,' Preshaw said this week.
'The NSW Large Scale Solar Guideline aims to provide clear and consistent guidance to the community, applicants, industry and regulators on the environmental and social impacts of state significant solar energy projects, encouraging early and continued consultation, and suitable site selection.'
Sophie is editor of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and deputy editor of its sister site, RenewEconomy.com.au. Sophie has been writing about clean energy for more than a decade.