A SOLAR panel recycling company's proposal to establish a facility beside the existing Kilmany Resource Recovery Centre and Landfill facility would bring much-needed economic investment and job opportunities to the area, according to a council report.
Wellington Shire Council has been approached by the Ojas Group (Elecsome), which is seeking land for a facility to recycle solar panels and other "renewal energy-related operations".
It is understood the facility will be one of six statewide hubs created to accept household and solar farm panels.
The 24-hectare allotment in Velore Rd, Kilmany, was originally bought by the council for the expansion of the recovery centre, but will not be needed for the expansion project for another 30 years.
The council report said that with the emerging renewable energy sector gaining pace, Wellington Shire was "well-placed to take advantage of the significant renewable energy investments proposed across the municipality".
It said "a number of leases could be established" at the Kilmany location, noting the size of the site.
The land is accessed from the Princes Highway and abuts the train line.
The solar recycling plant proposal fits with the shire's strengthening identity as a renewable energy zone, and its plan to negotiate leases directly with businesses aligned with renewable energy industries "where essential environmental permits and other development approvals can be granted".
A large-scale solar power project proposed for multiple locations across Wellington Shire has already begun the planning permit process for the first site located at Perry Bridge, with the flow-on effect of the projects expected to provide wider economic benefits.
The report stated the developments "will result in continued growth in renewable energies with Wellington Shire while delivering jobs and investment within our region".
The life span of a solar farm panel is about 25 years.
It is anticipated that the Ojas facility, as one of the state hubs, will be taking in panels for recycling from outside of the shire, so panels could begin arriving as soon as the facility is operational.
In addition to panels which have reached the end of their life span, the facility will recycle newer failed panels.
Solar panel production has a failure and damage rate of about one per cent, so larger panels that cannot be repaired are expected to be sent to the recycling to a hub soon after production or failure.
Councillor Gayle Maher told a recent council meeting that the land was adjacent to the Kilmany Resource Recovery Centre, and was compatible with the shire's focus on renewable energy investments.
"It sits within a public use zone, which requires that the lessee be compatible with zoning and must apply and satisfy planning application and permit processes," she said.
"The Victorian government has committed to creating a renewable energy zone in Gippsland, and Wellington welcome renewable energy investments as part of this.
"The ongoing growth in renewable energy investments provide opportunity, and this being a large-scale solar project, the likes which we haven't seen before, highlights the changing nature of energy and renewables, and these are strongly supported by our local community."
The Kilmany site is expected to be upgraded and utilities installed at the lease holder's cost, and at the end of the lease the site must be restored to council's satisfaction.