Planning underway for $100m Fulham solar farm

Gippsland will continue to play a pivotal role in the energy mix for the state with wind, solar and battery storage, as new projects edge closer to making it off the drawing board.

GIPPSLAND’S role in the nation’s transition to renewable energy continues to gather momentum, with planning underway for a $100 million solar farm in Hopkins Rd, Fulham.
The farm is the second in a joint venture between local businesses WK and MA Ferguson and Marathon Electrical, and will be supported by a third project to create an Australian Renewables Academy in Sale for training a renewables workforce.
The 80MW solar farm with battery storage of up to 80MWh will be built on 400 acres of farmland in Hopkins Rd, Fulham, and will co-exist with grazing activities on the site.
It is expected to produce enough energy to power 25,000 homes, and will help boost renewable energy supply in Gippsland alongside the consortium’s 44MW solar farm at Perry Bridge, which recently received state government planning approval.
The Perry Bridge project is estimated to cost about $70 million (excluding batteries).
Subject to approvals, construction of both the Fulham and Perry Bridge projects is expected to be completed by early 2023.
Solis RE is also behind the Gippsland Renewable Energy Park, a proposed large scale renewable energy park in Giffard West.
While the Gippsland Renewable Energy Park is in the early feasibility stages, stage one of the project is proposed to consist of up to 500MW of solar generation and up to 500MWh of battery storage.
The construction cost is estimated at $1.2 billion for stage one of the project, and the energy park will form a critical part of Victoria’s energy future.
The proposed site comprises about 10,000 acres of agricultural land and, like Fulham, will co-exist with existing grazing activities on the site.
All projects are part of the group’s ambitious, ‘Project Repowering Gippsland’ proposal to secure Gippsland’s renewable energy needs.
To support the renewable energy projects across the region, the joint venture partners are working with other local organisations to create a training academy in Sale.
The Australian Renewables Academy is expected to provide the specialist skills and knowledge required to secure a robust and secure renewable energy workforce.
It is currently reviewing potential sites in the Sale area.
Solis’s website described Project Repowering Gippsland’s objective as being to “reduce the burden on the grid whilst focusing on cleaner ways to produce energy”.
“Project Repowering Gippsland’s primary objective will be to focus on solar and battery power, then other green power alternatives such as hydrogen,” it states.
“It will leverage off the existing transmission network in place from coal power plants whilst providing reliable, efficient, low cost power and big battery storage so that power is dispatched according to demand.
“The project will firm up the supply and reliability of distribution of power in the region, which currently suffers from supply and voltage issues.”
The consortium says the project will provide “substantial economic benefit” to the region by enabling business owners to enter into commercial power purchase agreements at reduced rates to the current market.
Detailed site assessments and designs are currently underway for the $100 million
Fulham solar farm (excluding batteries), with a formal period of community consultation to be completed in the coming months, prior to submission of a planning application to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
Marathon Electrical director Brett Singh said the partners were “very excited by the ongoing progress and support for these projects”.
“We have had significant interest from the local community and industry regarding the
projects and are well advanced in discussions with AusNet regarding connecting the projects to the grid,” he said.
Mr Singh said partners intended to create opportunities for all members of the Gippsland community through supported training and work readiness programs.
“The Australian Renewables Academy will ensure that the economic and social benefits of the rapidly developing renewables sector are realised by the local community through the development of a well trained workforce, with transferable skills to make the most of the employment opportunities in the sector,” he said.
Mr Singh said the academy would develop courses and connections with education
providers that were relevant to industry and could be delivered Australia-wide.