UPC\AC Renewables is proposing to build a 140 megawatt solar farm and 50 megawatt Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) about seven kilometres north east of the small central Victorian township of Axedale. Critically, the BESS will be combined with grid-forming inverters, which are an emerging technology in Australia with advantages over traditional grid-following inverters.
Planning approval was granted by the City of Greater Bendigo and Campaspe Shire Council in March 2020. Conditions on the development during construction and ongoing operation include:
- Protection for small parcels of remaining native vegetation and an un-named waterway which runs through the site
- Requirements to manage pests, weeds, stormwater and erosion
- Submission of management plans for construction, traffic management, waste, environmental risks and noise
A Cultural Heritage Management Plan in cooperation with the Taungurung Land and Waters Council has also been completed. The plan provides guidance on measures before, during and after construction to manage and protect Aboriginal cultural heritage on the site.
The project is expected to have a working life of 30 years. At the end of its useful life, the solar farm can be decommissioned, and the land returned to a state suitable for previous uses.
The solar farm will produce enough clean, renewable energy to power up to 55,000 Victorian homes via an existing 220kV transmission line that crosses the site
Rows of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels will be installed on a single axis tracking system that follows the path of the sun, while also allowing adequate space for sheep to continue grazing on the land in-between and underneath the panels.
The project site comprises 365 hectares of land located approximately 7km north-east of the town of Axedale, situated within the City of Greater Bendigo and Campaspe Shire local government areas.
The mostly cleared, non-irrigated site was selected for its excellent solar exposure, flat topography, lack of environmental constraints and proximity to existing transmission infrastructure. The land has the potential for sheep grazing to continue during operations, while delivering renewable electricity.