200 MW solar farm and big battery project gets green light



The 200 MW solar farm and associated 300 MW lithium-ion battery storage project will be constructed on a 149 hectare site about 16km south of Bonshaw, near Inverell. The farm will feature a network of PV modules in single-axis tracking mounts with the facility to connect to the existing 330 kV Transgrid Dumaresq substation.

The $238 million solar farm, which is being developed by GAIA Australia, will have the capacity to generate energy for an estimated 70,000 homes.

Rated a “State Significant” development, the project was referred to the IPC for determination because “the applicant made a reportable political donations disclosure,” the commission said in a statement.

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment finalised its whole-of-government assessment of the project in November and on Thursday IPC commissioner John Hann approved the development, subject to certain conditions.

In the development consent, the IPC imposed a condition requiring GAIA to rehabilitate the site when operations cease,  submit an Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management Plan prior to carrying out any development which could disturb heritage items, and another which identifies specific heritage items that must not be impacted and those that must be salvaged prior to disturbance.

“The commission agrees with the department’s assessment … and agrees that the project is in accordance with the (Environmental Planning & Assessment) Act and is in the public interest,” Hann wrote in the Statement of Reasons for Decision.

The 200 MW Bonshaw Solar Farm will be built near Inverell, in northern NSW.

Image: AGIA

GAIA expects the project will begin operations in mid 2022, delivering 200 MW of renewable energy to the National Electricity Market (NEM), equating to 420 GWh per annum.

“The project will support the Commonwealth and NSW governments in achieving their respective renewable energy and greenhouse gas emission reduction targets,” GAIA said in its Response to Submissions report.

The approval of the Bonshaw project comes in the same week that the 65 MW Tamworth Solar Farm and integrated 19 MW battery storage system was given the tick of approval and just days after the IPC gave the $400 million Walla Walla Solar Farm the green light.

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