Deputy PM breaks ground on the (solar) farm

For acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce this was a different sort of farm, but the Nationals leader was no less excited to be visiting.

By: Cressida Bradley
Acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce (third from left) helps break ground for the White Rocks Solar Farm in his New England electorate. PICTURE: Goldwind.

 

Mr Joyce was keen to show his support for Australian renewable energy this week by marking the start of construction at the White Rock Solar Farm, in his electorate of New England.

“It is positive news for the New England Electorate that the White Rock Solar Farm project construction is now commencing,” said the Deputy Prime Minister, in a statement issued afterwards.

Mr Joyce said he supported the project because it would benefit the nation. “The Federal Coalition Government supports renewables and has a legislated and efficient renewable energy target, so supporting projects like the White Rock Solar Farm shows that the Federal Government is serious about supporting renewable energy production to help secure the national grid,” he said.

ARENA contributed $5.4 million to this $44.5 million project as part of a large scale solar competitive round in the Advancing Renewables Program.

The 20 MW solar farm is expected to generate around 46,000 megawatt hours in the first full year of operation, which is sufficient to power approximately 7,200 NSW homes annually.

The operating life of the solar farm will be up to 30 years.

White Rock is one of two major renewable energy plants in the area. The other is the White Rock Wind Farm. The White Rock Wind Farm turbines have already begun exporting 175 MW to the national grid.

The solar and wind farms together will form an innovative hybrid project that will increase energy security by making the most of the complementary power generation technologies. That means that when it is cloudy the wind farm can still generate power. And when there is no wind, the solar farm can still contribute to the energy grid.

Co-location of the wind and solar projects also lowers the cost of the solar energy through shared resources and infrastructure.  

The solar-wind hybrid renewable energy facility is developer Goldwind Australia’s second wind-solar hybrid project following the 10 MW Gullen Solar project near Goulburn in NSW, which was also supported by ARENA investment in 2016.

The White Rock Wind Farm will be completed by the end of this year. Construction on the White Rock Solar Farm is due to be completed by early 2018.  

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Cressida Bradley

Cressida Bradley is a Melbourne writer who has worked with organisations such as Sustainability Victoria and ClimateWorks.