More solar, wind farms for Victoria

Victorian Government announces another six large solar and wind farms

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New renewables projects for north and west of the state.

The State Government has announced six new solar and wind farms will be built, following Victoria’s first renewable energy auction.

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SOLAR PROMISE: Daniel Andrews, the Victorian Premier, has announced a further six solar and wind farms for the state.

SOLAR PROMISE: Daniel Andrews, the Victorian Premier, has announced a further six solar and wind farms for the state.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the solar and wind farms would produce more than 900 megawatts (MW) of clean energy.

“It’s simple – greater supply of renewable energy means lower power prices and more jobs for Victorian families,” Mr Andrews said.

“We’re making Victoria the capital of renewable energy and supporting the thousands of local jobs it creates.

The winning projects, under the reverse auction, are the:

 • Berrybank Wind Farm west of Geelong, which will produce 180MW 

• Cawarp Solar Farm south of Mildura, which will produce 121.6MW

 • Cohuna Solar Farm north-west of Echuca, which will produce 34.2MW

 • Dundonnell Wind Farm north-east of Warrnambool, which will produce 336MW 

• Mortlake South Wind Farm south of Mortlake, which will produce 157.5MW 

• Winton Solar Farm near Benalla, which will produce 98.8MW 

Mr Andrews said the auction, part of the Victorian Renewable Energy Targets (VRET), was initially expected to deliver at least 650MW of renewable energy. 

The auction delivered 928MW of renewable energy – almost 45 per cent more power than originally anticipated. 

The 928MW of power produced by the projects was expected to drive a 16 per cent reduction in Victoria’s electricity sector greenhouse gas emissions by 2034/35. 

The VRET would ensure 25 per cent of our electricity generation came from renewable sources by 2020, and 40 per cent by 2025.

Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said renewable energy would create jobs, drive growth and protect the environment.

Victoria’s farmers recently called for large-scale solar farms to be excluded from land with a water use licence.

Concerns about solar farms were raised at this year’s Ballarat Victorian Farmers Federation conference.

Delegates supported a motion that building them on land that could be connected to the irrigation system denied agriculture the opportunity to grow and maximise production.

Lockington dairy farmer Paul Weller said it made no sense to turn the productive agricultural land into solar farms.

 “There’s a lot of land that doesn’t have a water use licence, in northern Victoria,” Mr Weller said.

“Governments have invested $2billion in upgrading the irrigation system, through Connections, so why do all that work and then cover the land with solar farms?”

“I am not against solar farms but there are places they can be built where they are not going to conflict with irrigation capability.”

The conference call came after the government “called in” proposals for the four solar farms in the Greater Shepparton area, to determine their suitability for approval.

The decision was made after about 100 objections were raised against the proposed developments.

Tallygaroopna dairy farmer Natalie Akers said the plans were a case of the market, outrunning planning regulations.

She said it appeared it was a case for solar companies looking for “cheap and easy options because Victoria has no solar farm planning guidelines.

“I am not opposed to solar developments, but do not believe they should be built on productive agricultural irrigation properties on the $2 billion irrigation backbone,” Ms Akers said.

 “The failure to have a Victorian strategy about the location of solar farms and guidelines sees a scattergun approach to their installation.”

Premier Daniel Andrews told the Ballarat conference, solar farms needed to be put in the right place, where they did not compete with productive land use.

“With any large-scale development and a change in land use, you need to have a comprehensive plan,” Mr Andrews said.

He said the renewable energy industry needed certainty.

“You get better planning outcomes if you give the industry certainty,” Mr Andrews said.

“We are all about getting certainty for that industry.”

“We need that power, but also never forget there are already users and owners of that land and we should empower you, just as we have on fracking decisions and a range of other policies.”

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