Solar farm project moves forward

By Thomas Moir

A year-long process is soon set to begin to design all elements of the forthcoming solar farm planned for GV Link land south of Mooroopna.

And then, providing a planning permit is awarded, a further year to build the site.

This all comes after Shepparton councillors formally resolved to enter into a lease for the proposed facility with GVCE Mooroopna Solar this week.

This resolution is described by those behind the proposal as the start of a journey.

Goulburn Valley Community Energy chief executive Geoff Lodge, who welcomed the decision, remained pleased to be moving to the next stage of the project.

He said the next year would lead to the ‘‘critical step’’ of seeking planning approval.

‘‘That’s 12 months’ work ahead of us,’’ Mr Lodge said.

‘‘The most important thing about (this week), is we can now start that journey.

‘‘The key thing is, we have tenure over that to be able to do those works.’’

The forthcoming $40million solar farm will encompass an estimated 62000 panels and 35000MWh/year of electricity generated across 30ha of land.

The project is estimated to have 120 jobs attached at peak construction and service about 6500 homes (at 15kWh/day/house).

This forthcoming design process is set to look at details such as, ‘‘exactly where we put in each solar panel’’ and ‘‘how are we mounting them to a frame’’.

In short, it will be the design of every aspect of the project.

Mr Lodge said with a lease commitment made, subject to a planning permit and other agreements, the team could invest efforts to do the design work.

‘‘Now we’ve secured the lease, when it’s signed, probably next week, we’ll start all these design aspects,’’ he said.

This 12-month process will entail collecting all necessary information, including studies and agreements and grid connection information.

‘‘We will have a consultation with the local community, with what we propose to do,’’ Mr Lodge said.

‘‘What this step is it now means the signing of the lease ... That will happen very soon, which enables the commencement of the design process.’’

Following the 12-month design process, a further year is expected to be taken constructing the facility.

But for now, Mr Lodge described the forthcoming ‘‘journey’’ and stage it was at as exciting.