WHAT IS SOLAR POWER?
Solar power is clean and sustainable electricity that is created by harnessing the energy from sunlight. Photovoltaic (PV) panels are used to capture sunlight and convert it into power that can be stored in batteries, or distributed through transmission lines to homes and businesses.
WHAT IS THE CARISBROOK SOLAR FARM?
The Carisbrook Solar Farm is proposed for a 300-hectare site located about six kilometres east of the township of Carisbrook within the Central Goldfields Shire in central Victoria. It will incorporate 250,000 panels and will be 90 MW (DC), producing 150,000 gigawatt hours of power each year. The solar farm will connect to the existing 66kv transmission line which runs on the western edge of the site. If the solar farm is built, its footprint will cover about 70 per cent of the site, with at least 3 metres between panels.
WHERE WILL IT BE LOCATED?
The proposed site is about 13 kilometres east of Maryborough and 50 kilometres south-west of Bendigo. The closest township is Carisbrook, which is about six kilometres west of the site, within the Central Goldfields Shire. The southern boundary of the site borders the Pyrenees Highway.
IS THE SITE ON PUBLIC OR PRIVATE LAND?
The site is on private land, with three landholders from the same family.
WHAT IS THE LAND CURRENTLY USED FOR?
Predominantly sheep grazing – as well as being farmed for wheat, barley and hay.
CAN THE LAND STILL BE USED FOR OTHER FARMING PRACTICES?
Yes, the property will be able to continue farming operations. It is expected the sheep will continue to graze in and around the solar farm.
WHO IS THE COMPANY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PROJECT?
ib vogt GmbH, a German engineering company founded in 1991 and headquartered in Berlin. We are currently working across 12 countries throughout the world, have more than 130 employees worldwide and have specialised in large scale solar project development since 2002.
We have been active in Australia’s large scale solar industry since 2016. Our first project in Australia is the Williamsdale Solar Farm, an 11MW energy plant near Canberra in the ACT. We have a pipeline of projects across Australia and our aim is to develop, build and operate a portfolio of clean energy generation plants. For more information, please see our website: www.ibvogt.com.
IS THE CARISBROOK SOLAR FARM READY TO BE BUILT?
The Carisbrook Solar Farm requires planning approval from Central Goldfields Shire through a planning permit under the Planning and Environment Act 1987. The planning application for the Carisbrook Solar Farm was submitted to the Central Goldfields Council in August.
WHEN WILL IT BE CONFIRMED IF THE SOLAR FARM WILL GO AHEAD?
We are expecting a decision early 2019.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO BUILD?
The construction process for a solar farm is relatively simple but does require significant employee hours. We expect the bulk of the work will take seven to nine months, with the full construction term likely to be between 12 and 14 months.
HOW MANY EMPLOYEES WILL BE NEEDED DURING CONSTRUCTION?
There will be up to 240 staff required during the busiest construction period, which we expect will be between seven and nine months.
HOW MANY LOCALS WILL BE EMPLOYED?
The construction period will provide local job opportunities for civil works, concrete works, fencing, landscaping and businesses in the area providing accommodation, catering, trades and other services and supplies. We hope that up to 60 per cent of workers will be from the local area. Once the solar farm is operational we will employ two or three locals to manage operations for the life of the project, which is estimated at 25 to 30 years.
HOW MUCH CLEAN ENERGY WILL THE SOLAR FARM PRODUCE?
Roughly 150,000 gigawatt hours of clean energy per year, enough to power 44,000 homes, or a city close to the size of Bendigo.
HOW MANY SOLAR PANELS WILL BE ON THE SITE?
There will be 250,000 solar PV panels (photovoltaics) and several inverters similar to those installed throughout Australia on residential and commercial properties.
HOW ARE THEY CONSTRUCTED?
The panels will sit on steel frames attached to pile driven supports. This construction creates minimal land disturbance and allows sheep to continue to graze in and around the arrays once the solar farm is operational.
WILL THERE BE BATTERY STORAGE?
Potentially, yes. This will enable energy generated during the day to be stored for later use (during the evening peak period, when the electrical grid network needs it most).
ARE GLINT AND GLARE A PROBLEM FOR SOLAR FARMS?
No. Recent studies conducted on operating solar farms have shown there is no significant glint or glare issue. A solar panel is designed to absorb light, not to reflect it. A glare impact assessment specialist has reviewed the Carisbrook site and found there was no glare hazard potential for people living nearby or travelling on surrounding roads.
WILL THE SOLAR FARM BE NOISY?
Solar farms aren’t noisy places. Each panel has a single-axis tracker design with an electric motor. If you were standing right next to the solar farm you might hear a tiny sound as the panel moves, but they move so slowly as they track with the sun that even if you were sitting underneath it you might only hear it for a millisecond. When you incorporate the rest of the equipment, such as transporters and inverters, there will be a small number of sounds, but you would need to be very close to the solar farm to hear them. Solar farms are governed by stringent government electrical regulations – just as other industries are – and noise level requirements.
WILL THE SOLAR FARM CAUSE ‘HEAT ISLAND EFFECT’?
There have been several peer reviewed studies which identify that heat island effect is not applicable to solar farms. A May 2018 report by expert witness Ken Guthrie, prepared for the City of Greater Shepparton, identifies that natural convection will take any warm air upward. You can read more here.
WHAT ARE THE REPORTED HEALTH EFFECTS FROM SOLAR FARMS?
There are no reported adverse health effects from living near solar farms.
ARE BIRD STRIKES A PROBLEM WITH SOLAR FARMS?
No. Solar farms are a fixed installation with only very slowly moving parts. There is lots of space and grass between the panels and the solar farm becomes part of the landscape, with minimal risk to birds.
WHAT ABOUT AIRCRAFT DANGER AND PILOT CONFUSION?
There are many examples of solar farm sites within close range of airports. Munich airport in Germany has a solar farm nearby and another is planned near Brisbane airport. Solar farms are not considered a significant problem for aircraft and large scale solar farms often provide landmark objects which help with navigation for aircraft and emergency services.
IS THERE AN INCREASED FIRE RISK AT A SOLAR FARM?
No. PV installations shade the ground, reducing heat absorption on the ground, making it cooler. The panels are designed to remove energy, reducing the amount of heat in the local area and as technology improves panels become more efficient at doing this. The panels are thin and lightweight, have relatively little heat retention capacity and cool quickly once the sun goes down, with any residual heat quickly dissipated into the air by natural convection. You can read more about this in the Guthrie Report [PDF].
Nevertheless, in consultation with the CFA, ib Vogt have included a 10-metre buffer between the site boundary and the solar arrays.
WHAT ARE THE WATER PROVISIONS ON SITE?
There is an existing dam in the north-west corner of the site as well as two 45,000 litre water tanks installed among the solar arrays.
HOW MUCH DUST AND NOISE DO YOU ANTICIPATE DURING CONSTRUCTION?
We are working with VicRoads to design site access from the Pyrenees Highway directly to the site so we can minimise using the gravel Bald Hill Road. Our traffic plan will need to be approved by Council and will implement options to minimise noise, dust and disruption during construction. Secondary access will be provided during the construction and operation of the solar farm in the north-west corner of the site, allowing access to the solar farm switching yard.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU NEED TO CLEAN THE PANELS?
The best way to clean solar panels is with rain water, so during particularly wet periods the panels don’t need much cleaning. Each solar farm site has a schedule of cleaning which is dictated by how much dust and dirt is in the atmosphere. For instance, if there is harvesting nearby the panels may need to be cleaned the next day. Solar farm staff will continually monitor performance and check if any decline in production was due to requiring cleaning.
HOW LONG WILL THE SOLAR FARM OPERATE?
The lifespan for the Carisbrook Solar Farm is 25 to 35 years.
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE LAND AFTER THE SOLAR FARM IS REMOVED?
At the end of the solar farm’s lifespan we will consult with the landowners on future uses for the site. Upon consultation with the landowners, the land will be returned to it’s original state.
HOW DO I MAKE MY VOICE HEARD?
A community consultation process is in place to ensure local community members have the opportunity at all stages of planning and construction to understand the project, ask questions and voice their concerns. There is a community feedback form here.
You are also welcome to contact our Project Development Manager
Andrew Wilkinson via the details below.
m. 0409 508 144