Old South Freo tip solar farm gets green light

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statement from the City of Fremantle has was announced that the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) has accepted a contaminated sites auditor’s recommendation that one of its former landfill site is a suitable location for the construction of a 5 MW solar farm. The DWER approval was the final major regulator hurdle required before the solar farm can begin to take shape.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt spoke enthusiastically about the nearness of the project’s commencement: “Because the old South Fremantle tip is a contaminated site we have to be certain the solar farm can be built and operated safely,” said Pettitt, “so the approval from DWER is great news.”

The old South Freo tip site was operated as a landfill facility between the 1930s and the 1990s. Council documents state: “During that period, uncontrolled fill included domestic and industrial waste and fly ash was deposited on the site. The site is also thought to contain quarantine waste.” Due to the nature of the waste material onsite, community concerns had been raised about the potential for disturbance of contaminants during project construction.

The solar farm is set to be built and operated by Australian renewables developer Epuron, which received initial development approval from Fremantle Council for the project back in April 2018. “All that remains now is for the City to finalise the lease with Epuron in accordance with the business plan that was approved by the council,” said Pettitt.

Epuron has been working with the City of Fremantle on the project since August 2015. Previously, First Solar had been looking to develop a solar project at the site, although it withdrew from the process.

The next step for Epuron is to negotiate a power purchase agreement (PPA) with an electricity retailer or off taker. The developer plans to begin construction on the progress in early 2020 and complete it before the end of that year.

The City of Fremantle has been looking for usage options for the South Fremantle landfill since 1985. The South Fremantle Solar Farm project could be used by the City to make progress towards its zero-carbon emissions by 2025 ambitions as part of its One Planet strategy. Fremantle Council has indicated that its preference is to source local renewable energy rather than purchase carbon offsets.

While relatively small, at 5 MW, the project is significant in terms of repurposing a former landfill site for utility scale PV, and also for its close proximity to electricity demand in the growing port city.