Pacific Hydro gets regulatory nod for 555 MW of solar

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Utility-scale renewable energy developer Pacific Hydro has received the green light for two major solar farms, expanding on its large number of operating assets and development projects across Australia.

The Prairie Solar Farm, a proposed 240 MW project located near Mitiamo in northern Victoria, received a planning permission from Loddon Shire Council mid January. This was closely followed by a material change of use permit from Isaac Regional Council for the 315 MW Clarke Creek Solar Farm is located north of Rockhampton in Queensland.

“Together these projects represent 555 MW of new renewable energy capacity, forecast to generate enough electricity to power more than 300,000 Australian homes,” Pacific Hydro Australia CEO Rachel Watson said in a company statement titled “Double happiness”.

According to the developer, the planning applications received positive feedback from Loddon Shire Council, Isaac Regional Council, and referral agencies for their high quality, and consideration of a broad range of aspects.

“We are grateful to all stakeholders for their involvement, interest and support; we are now looking forward to realizing all the benefits that our renewable energy projects bring, particularly to regional communities”, she said.

The developer, which is owned by China’s State Power Investment Corporation, says the next step will be to commission detailed technical studies and analysis to progress both projects.

While it boasts a number of operating wind and hydro projects across Australia, Pacific Hydro’s solar projects are all in an early stage of development.

Its most advanced solar project is the Haughton Solar Farm in Queensland, which is expected to have a generating capacity of up to 500 MW.

The project has entered the construction phase in 2017, when an early works contract for the 100 MW Stage 1 was granted to EPC contractor RCR Tomlinson.

In the aftermath of RCR’s collapse, Pacific Hydro said it had secured the Haughton solar farm construction site and was taking all necessary steps to support construction and completion of this important investment in North Queensland.

In addition to the Prairie and Clarke Creek projects, the developer has one more solar project in its development pipeline – the 100 MW Daroobalgie Solar Farm, New South Wales

Last year, the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project (MREP) saw 14 organizations join forces with Pacific Hydro to purchase renewable energy from its 80 MW Crowlands Wind Farm, which is being built in the north-west of the state.

With a commitment to purchase 88 GWh of electricity per year from the wind farm under a long-term PPA, the MREP initiative has seen Melbourne become the first Australian capital city council powered by 100% renewables energy.