Recent news in the renewable energy sector has been concentrating on the proposed New South Wales Renewable Energy zones located in the State’s central west and New England regions now being fast-tracked by the NSW government. In terms of gigawatts capacity the proposals and expressions of interest for the central west zone have been nine times greater than the figure of 3GW that the government nominated. There is no doubt that this high level of interest will continue for the planned New England Energy Zone and it indicates there is no shortage of finance or project ideas when there is strong government support.
A similar, but much smaller, project – a park rather than a zone – initiated by private interests, and located in South Gippland near Giffard, has been on the ‘drawing boards’ for some time. A company representative recently provided details of this project at a zoom lecture delivered to Bairnsdale U3A and similar details were published in the Gippsland Times last December.
The 2347 ha of land the project has acquired is low value dry land pasture and, importantly, sits on top of the Basslink cable. Many of the solar and wind projects in the west have had trouble with the mains power line capacity being insufficient to carry the total power they all generate. Strategically locating by Basslink will enable the full energy production of the park to be utilised.
The Park will carry both wind and solar generation and has had expressions of interest for the production of green hydrogen and the inclusion of a gas ‘peaker’. During the lecture to the U3A I queried the company representative on the last part of the plan and he assured me that the ‘peaker’ will be powered by green hydrogen. The basic project plans for 500 MW of solar panels and another 500 MW of battery storage and be built in stages.
The Times article noted that: “the proposed Gippsland Renewable Energy Park had received support from the Victorian government, proponents had briefed Gippsland MHR Darren Chester and Gippsland South MLA Danny O’Brien, and the project was also fully supported by the Wellington Shire Council”. Whilst this is encouraging it is not enough. This project should be promoted by all of these individuals and administrations, loudly and continuously, and be fast-tracked by the state government. So far the voices of the local members, both State and Federal, remain unheard on this, and other related matters.
*The development company Solis has two other solar farm plans in the pipeline including Perry Bridge which will be ‘shovel ready’ by November.