Parkes transmitted the moon, now it’s transmitting the sun

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Parkes, famous for its role in showing mankind’s vision by showing the vision of man on the moon, has once again found a way to have its sheep graze upon a new frontier of human civilisation, this time, the transition to renewable energy. 

This is all to say that plans to construct an 80 MW solar farm and energy storage system in Parkes has been approved by the New South Wales Government.  

Colin Liebmann, Director at Renewable Energy Developments (RED), announced the approval of the 80 MW Quorn Park Solar Farm (AC) and accompanying 20 MWh battery last week, telling pv magazine Australia that “Parkes is a growing regional centre and has a pro active Council which welcomed the project.” 

Many will remember the iconic Aussie film, “The Dish”, which tells the story of Parkes’ involvement in NASA’s space-race triumph. An involvement which saw Parkes’ radio telescope, The Dish, itself propped back like a crescent moon in an open sky, receive and transmit live television images from Apollo 11’s moon-landing around the world. Without Parkes, the empirical footage of man on the moon might’ve been received with that kind of primal scepticism which prefers conspiracies to contentment, negativity to nourishment. And what kind of world would we be living in if we doubted ourselves so? 

Parkes has never been that kind of world, and the famous Aussie town is proving itself again, not satisfied with transmitting the moon it will soon be transmitting the sun.

RED is the developer behind the 67.8 MW Goonumbla Solar Farm currently being commissioned as well as the Blackwater Solar Farm and Dysart Solar Farm, both in the Bowen Basin region of Queensland. 

Liebamnn told pv magazine Australia that the Quorn Park Solar Farm will be single axis tracking, and though engineering and design are already well advanced, equipment suppliers have not yet been selected for the solar nor the battery storage. However, Liebmann says the site “has a strong connection at 132 kV and we are well advanced in the connection process with the network operators.” 

Of particular note, of course, is the energy storage feature. “Storage provides benefits for offtake customers and the grid,’ said Liebmann, hence its encouragement by network owners and planners. “Costs of batteries are declining rapidly,” continued Liebmann, “and their value is increasing so it makes a lot of sense to incorporate them in the project.” 

In its Notice of Decision, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, said the key reasons for granting consent to the development application were that the project would contribute and diversify the local economy with a capital investment of approximately $89 million, create up to 130 construction jobs, generate enough electricity to power around 30,000 homes and save over 160,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, provide stored energy for dispatch to the National Energy Market (NEM), and generally push the transition of the electricity sector rom coal and gas fired power stations to renewable energy. 

The project, a NSW State Significant Development, is expected to enter the construction phase within the next 12 months.