Overview

The Coleambally Solar Farm project is located about 5km north east of Coleambally in NSW. It consists of up to 550 hectares of ground mounted solar panels.

The aim of this project is to develop an environmentally and economically sound solar farm.

Coleambally Solar Farm will generate approximately 380,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of clean, renewable electricity into the national power grid each year, thereby making a major contribution to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction. This reduction will be equivalent to taking either 90,000 cars off the road or planting 530,000 trees, producing enough electricity to power approximately 52,000 homes with renewable energy.

Neoen will leverage off its local experience developing four comparable projects in NSW including one of them in Griffith (Yoogali), all having received federal support in the form of a grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), as announced in September 2016.

The combination of the Federal Renewable Energy Target (RET), ARENA’s large-scale solar competitive funding round, the decreasing cost of technology and Australia’s commitments made under the Paris Agreement now provide highly favourable conditions for solar projects in Australia. Consequently, Neoen will expedite the development of Coleambally Solar Farm.

Construction is expected to start late 2017 or early 2018 providing employment opportunities for the region.

Site selection

Coleambally was identified by Neoen as a high-potential location for a solar farm in 2016.

An initial feasibility assessment has been undertaken to determine the suitability of the area to accommodate a solar farm. This feasibility assessment has been based on the following criteria:

  • Availability of an abundant solar resource
  • Proximity to an existing electricity substation with good connection capacity
  • Adequate local electricity load with potential for growth
  • Landholders supportive of developing a solar farm on their property
  • Low environmental impact
  • Low expected visual impact
  • Suitable land in terms of:
    • factors that affect solar yield and construction costs (e.g. proximity to existing substation)
    • topography
    • land area
    • land zoning
    • geology
    • hydrology including flooding risk, and
    • access to the site.

Planning

Given the capital cost of the project, its development application will be assessed by the NSW Department of Planning & Environment. Therefore a Scoping Study for the Coleambally Solar Farm has been lodged with the NSW Department of Planning & Environment in January 2017.

The NSW Department of Planning & Environment will issue the Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs) in February 2017.

These requirements will be used as a basis for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) undertaken by Neoen with NGH Environmental, an environmental consulting firm.

Studies undertaken will include:

  • biodiversity
  • heritage (including Aboriginal heritage)
  • visual amenity
  • noise assessment
  • hydrology and flooding
  • soils
  • traffic and transport, and
  • bushfire risk.

Lodgement of the provisional EIS is planned for late March 2017.

Site Location and Preliminary Layout

The Coleambally Solar Farm site comprises approximately 550 hectares of private freehold land and will consist of approximately 560,000 solar panels. Below is a preliminary layout, subject to changes as the project design progresses.

This preliminary layout provides for up to 180 megawatts peak (MWp) of solar panels; however, it may be amended to reflect the results of on-going technical assessments and discussions with the local community, the network provider and regulators.

Electrical Connection

The electricity generated from the solar farm will be transmitted via underground cabling or overhead transmission (132kV) to the national electricity grid. The project will connect to an existing substation located directly across Ercildoune Road, about 150m north of the site.

The power generated from the Coleambally Solar Farm will flow into the national interconnected network.