A farming family in Yass has agreed to lease agricultural land to a state-significant solar farm estimated to cost $110 million and produce 80-megawatts of electricity.
If approved, Yass Solar Farm will be located next to TransGrid’s substation in Yass, on 150 hectares of mostly cleared land that runs along Perry Street in the town’s southwest corner.
The project proposed by Tetris Energy also includes a 20MW battery storage facility and small control room with parking.
The McClung family will lease about 55 hectares of land – that it has farmed for four generations – for 30 years to Tetris Energy.
Representing the family, Ian McClung said “it makes sense” to build the solar farm next to the power station.
“The biggest cost of solar farms is getting the power to a power station,” he said. “We think putting a solar farm next to a power station is smart.”
A connection to TransGrid’s substation will be made via overhead or underground high voltage cables according to a report lodged by Tetris Energy with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment in February.
The electricity – captured by rotating solar panels that can track the sun throughout the day – would then be sold into the National Electricity Market.
Mr McClung’s family has wanted to lease the land to a renewable energy project for several years. They are supporters of renewable energy and can see the financial benefits during tough farming seasons.
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“The return on the land [from the solar farm] is far greater than running cattle,” he said. “Of course, the solar farm will scar the land, but we hope with the agreement we have put together, at the end of the term [Tetris Energy] will restore or repurpose the land.”
Mr McClung said the solar farm will boost the local economy during an estimated 18 months of construction with contractors staying in Yass. In addition, the solar panels will require ongoing maintenance by a local contractor.
The family also hopes to work with Tetris Energy to provide a subsidised solar rollout to Yass Valley residents.
“[We aim to develop] some kind of incentive to help everyone in the Yass Valley switch to solar,” said Mr McClung.
The development will require a change in land use from E4 Environmental Living to SP2 Infrastructure (electricity-generating works).
While construction of the solar farm is expected to create some noise and dust, there are no dwellings within the immediate vicinity within the E4 zone land, said Tetris Energy.
However, there are dwellings on Perry Street and Wee Jasper Road that will be able to see the solar farm.
Tetris Energy said it is not aware of any known heritage items at or near the site.
The McClung family has a three-year sunset agreement with Tetris Energy, which means construction of the solar farm needs to begin within three years, or its contract will no longer be valid.
The project is currently in its second year with Tetris Energy currently working on the environmental impact statement, which includes biodiversity, heritage, visual, noise and socioeconomic assessments.
Flora and fauna studies are due to take place onsite this spring, said Mr McClung.