Shire receives application for solar farm

A Joint Development Assessment Panel will asses an application for a solar farm within the Shire of Collie.
A Joint Development Assessment Panel will asses an application for a solar farm within the Shire of Collie.

The possibility of a solar farm in Collie which could power around 2,000 homes is open for consultation.

Hadouken Pty Ltd has made an application to the Shire of Collie, however a Joint Development Assessment Panel will approve or reject the project.

The 20MW photovoltaic facility will be based at 323 Patstone Road and will occupy 18 hectares of land.

According to the application, the site was chosen because of its proximity to the Western Power Collie Sub-station and would reduce electricity losses from the generation system.

It will involve the installation of five banks of fixed-tilt modules, upon which panels are installed.

The panels are about 1.1m above ground level and the five banks are connected to five inverter/transformer cabinets.

The proposed project includes the ability have up to 10 shipping containers to contain future battery storage.

Hadouken Pty Ltd managing director Ben Tan said he chose to put the farm in the Shire of Collie because coal was not a renewable energy source.

He said the solar farm would offset about 25 kilotonnes of carbon.

“Approval and implementation of the proposal will also be a positive contribution towards establishing a greater presence of the renewable energy sector within the Shire of Collie,” the application states.

“The proposal will assist the State in meeting growing energy demand (particularly with Synergy accelerating its closure of the Muja AB coal-fired power station) and will be a significant move towards a presence of the renewable energy sector in the district.”

The applications states that the inverter cabinets will be positioned on-site to be unobtrusive and painted a dune colour to minimise its visual prominence.

It also says there will be additional vegetation screening along the eastern property boundary, near Harris River Road and as the vegetation grows it will provide more screening from the road.

If approved it is estimated the construction of the farm would take about three to six months with a workforce of 40-80 people and an average of 90 to 100 truck deliveries during this phase.

Access for construction will be from Harris River Road.

Mr Tan said he would do his best to hire locally, however there would be some specific skill sets needed which may not allow all positions to be from local people.

He said in the long term he intended to hire local electricians and cleaners for ongoing maintenance of the facility.

Once operational the facility will be controlled and monitored remotely from Perth. 

The proponent anticipates it will employ three part-time staff which would be on-site for an average of five hours per week.

“It is expected that personnel will visit the site at most on a bi-weekly basis to conduct cleaning, maintenance, fire management and vegetation control,” the application states.

Mr Tan said this proposal was not the first of its kind with many solar farms across WA as well as the country.

Shire officers will carry out an assessment of the proposal against the provisions of the Shire of Collie Town Planning Scheme No. 5 as well as State regulations and policies, taking into consideration any submissions received.

As the proposed cost of the facility is more than $10 million, state legislation dictates that it be assessed by a Joint Development Assessment Panel rather than council.

The panel is comprised of three specialist members appointed by the state government and two shire councillors who are appointed by council following each local government election process.

Submissions will be closed at 4.30pm on March 1 and the application can be accessed at the Shire of Collie office.

What do you think about a solar farm within the Shire of Collie? Have your say, email jemillah.dawson@fairfaxmedia.com.au