Local authorities in New South Wales, Australia, have given French independent power producer Neoen the green light to develop a large scale solar-plus-storage production facility in the region despite receiving 50 complaints from members of the public.
The Culcairn Solar Farm, which will be located in the NSW Riverina Region, will include 350MW of solar capacity alongside a 100MW/200MWh battery energy storage system.
The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment finalised its assessment of the project in January, and Neoen’s planning application was brought to the state’s Independent Planning Commission after it received complaints from a local council and more than 50 members of the public. In a meeting with locals held earlier this month, members of the community expressed concerns regarding the loss of agricultural land, biodiversity, environmental impacts, and bushfire risk.
Under the conditions of the IPC’s project approval, Neoen must undertake measures to minimise any adverse environmental impacts, set standards and performance measures for acceptable environmental performance in the area, and prepare a plan to return the site to its pre-existing state when the project is decommissioned.
Neoen’s AU$636 million (US$485.4 million) project is expected to begin commercial operations by mid-2022, and have the ability to produce approximately 800GWh of electricity per year.
The farm is expected to create 350 jobs during its construction, according to the IPC’s filing, and seven permanent positions when it becomes operational.
Neoen is aiming to more than double its renewable power capacity by 2025. It has started to focus on expanding its presence in regions such as Queensland, where it is also developing what, at 460MWp capacity, stands to be Australia’s largest solar farm.