Saturday, July 4, 2020
Renewable Energy News

Small, smart, community-owned solar farm planned for NSW High Country – RenewEconomy

By Staff , in Solar Power , at June 23, 2020

One Step Off The Grid

Plans to build a community-owned solar farm in the New South Wales High Country are taking shape, as part of a collaboration between specialist small PV project developer Meralli Solar and community renewables outfit Farming the Sun.

Farming the Sun, itself a collaboration with Starfish Initiatives, said on Thursday that it had begun work on the new project, after securing an option to buy what could prove to be a suitable site on the outskirts of Uralla.

The around 9MW project is being developed in partnership with Meralli, which specialises in building smaller-scale solar farms with a compact footprint, sensitive design, and good return on investment.

They achieve much of this by using the Belectric PEG framing system which requires no concrete footings and installs the panels less than one metre off the ground, giving the finished product an ultra-low profile, while also allowing for rapid installation.

In the case of Meralli’s 8.9MW Baroota solar farm in Port Germein in South Australia’s Spencer Gulf region, that project was completed in just eight weeks (pictured above).

And the completion of Baroota followed the September 2019 electrification of Meralli’s 9MW Kanowna solar farm near Moree, in NSW, described as “cutting edge” for its use of both DC optimisers and DC coupled battery architecture for central inverters.

As RenewEcononmy editor GIles Parkinson noted at the time, the combination means it can get by some of the grid connection and output restrictions being imposed by network operators, and maximise the output of both the solar farm and any battery storage, which can then be sent to the grid at times of peak demand or in the evening.

For Meralli, Uralla – if it goes ahead – would be the company’s sixth solar farm, but it would be the first in partnership with Starfish Initiatives, where locals would be able to directly invest in the project.

Starfish’s Farming the Sun venture, meanwhile, has been facilitating community-funded solar farms and bulk-buy rooftop solar rounds for several years in New South Wales, including in Lismore, the Northern Rivers region and in Tamworth, Gunnedah, Liverpool Plains and Southern New England High Country regions.

“Starfish and Meralli have been working at this project concept for a few years, but it is just now… that we can begin engaging with the community and stakeholders,” Farming the Sun said on its website.

At this point, Farming the Sun says the Uralla project remains in its very early stages, with many details yet to be worked through, ranging from site suitability, to development application and approval, to finalising the community investment structure.

To read the full story on RenewEconomy sister site, One Step Off The Grid, click here…