ReWired Podcast: Episode 2

A quiet revolution in large scale solar is unfolding across the country. Discover how it is rewiring our electricity grid and transforming local communities.

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Australia’s food bowl is producing world-class wine and premium solar energy.

Basking amongst the citrus trees, grape vines and rice fields of Australia’s food bowl sits the site for the Griffith Solar Farm in South-Western NSW.

The local Riverina area is renowned for the premium wine and food that it exports to the world. Soon the region will add renewable energy to its list of high quality and desirable produce.

To get to Griffith we’ve travelled a long way south from our previous episode on the Kidston Solar Farm in Northern Queensland.

The local legend is that Griffith is the sunniest place on Earth. While this may be a tall tale, it is true that Griffith’s big, clear, blue skies mean it’s the perfect place to construct a large-scale solar farm.

When opened in late 2017, the solar farm will offset emissions equivalent to 20,000 cars or 66,000 tonnes of CO2. And it could power around 11,000 homes.

ARENA has provided a $5 million dollar grant to help Developers Neoen make the solar farm commercially viable, which is around 10% of the total costs. The project is under construction and already boosting the local economy by drawing on the area for services, hospitality and sunny days.

Local contractors are finding employment in the important the civil work jobs, like constructing internal roads and erecting the fence around the site.

In fact, the fence is attracting attention, leading to curious rumours about growing controlled hemp for the Government.

The big companies who are doing the major works are employing local electrician contractors, as well as bringing in workers who stay in the motels and go to the shops and restaurants.

Good food is being eaten, great friendships are being made, and a local community is thriving.

The farm is installing 112,000 of the latest generation solar panels. The advances of solar energy over the last decade mean that solar power is now competitively priced against more traditional, fossil fuel energy sources.

But the real question is, will the Griffith Solar Farm be able to collect solar power by the light of the full moon?