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Massive Solar Farm proposed for Gunning NSW

A Dutch energy company has lodged plans for a 316 megawatt solar plant north of the Canberra in NSW.

Construction of Photon Energy's near-600 hectare plant would begin in 2019 and have the largest power output in NSW.

The plant will be built near Gunning, an hour's drive north of Canberra.

Australian managing director Michael Gartner said the plant would be brought online in 30 megawatt blocks over the 12-month construction period, with each block estimated to be able to power 15,000 homes.

Once fully operational, Mr Gartner said the plant will be able feed enough power for 150,000 homes into the national energy grid, indirectly powering homes in the ACT.

"One of the big issues at the moment is that the energy supply is falling behind demand," Mr Gartner said.

"This has led to increased wholesale electricity prices which are being transferred over to the consumers. Increasing the supply, that should help ease the rise on power prices."

"It's going to be a significant contribution to the energy transformation that's occurring in Australia to renewable energy."

Acting energy minister Mick Gentleman said the plant would not directly power Canberra homes.

However it would contribute to the national renewable energy target, which is counted towards the ACT's own 100 per cent by 2020 target.

"The ACT Government welcomes a proposal for potentially Australia's largest solar farm to be built less than an hour's drive from Canberra," Mr Gentleman said.

Mr Gentleman said the national energy market was in desperate need of new power generation capacity.

"Due to federal policy uncertainty, there has been a prolonged investment freeze in the electricity market, causing greater dependence on more expensive gas generation, and driving up electricity prices as a result," he said.

The proposed site is made up of several lots which vary in size from 80 ha to 200 ha and is bisected by a 330KV TransGrid powerline. The solar farm would connect into this powerline.

The site has been cleared and disturbed for agricultural activity and is currently used for sheep grazing.

The Gunning Solar Farm would involve a capital investment of some $380 million and create 50 construction jobs and 4 ongoing operations and maintenance jobs.

Photon Energy has to-date developed and/or commissioned over 60 ground-mount and rooftop PV systems in 5 countries representing 50 MW of installed capacity.

Local projects include 4 x 144kW - 200kW PV systems at Symonston and Fyshwick in the ACT.

Click here to listen to an ABC Canberra Radio segment about the proposed solar farm with ANU Researcher, Andrew Blakers

Site map can be downloaded below. 

Source: The Canberra Times and NSW Planning & Environment

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