UPDATED:

The biggest solar farm to be built near an urban area in Queensland has been given an early tick of approval by Gold Coast City councillors.

The proposal was debated at planning committee today where the vote to support the project was unanimous from councillors. Full approval will still be needed at full council.

Area councillor Mark Hammel predicted the Gilberton project in farmland north of the city would not be the last of its type.

"This is the biggest solar facility next to an urban area in Queensland. The interest from the university sector in this is huge," Cr Hammel said.

The new councillor said researchers would want to use the Coast facility as a "playpen" to get on the ground and test results from its power generation.

Cr Hammel said other land owners in the area who had flood prone sites were watching the progress of the application, aware they might be able to develop their land.

The possibilities included some sites currently not used including either a residential or industrial element combined with a solar farm which could ensure a profitable business.

"It's quite exciting. It's very new. I don't think this is the last time we will see this in the city," he said.

 

EARLIER:

 

COUNCIL officers are recommending approval of a massive solar farm in the north of the Gold Coast.

Councillors at a planning committee meeting starting at 9am today will consider a 195-page report which includes submissions from the applicant Ormed Investments Pty Ltd before voting.

The solar farm is proposed for a footprint of 37.4 hectares at Greyhound Road, Gilberton, located east of Yatala in the city's rural northern heart just west of Jacobs Well.

Officers in a report said: "Since lodgement of the application in 2017, the proposal has gone through a number of conceptual redesigns and iterations. The current proposed footprint involves the establishment of 86,935 photovoltaic panels.'

 

The site for a proposed solar farm at Gilberton on the Gold Coast.
The site for a proposed solar farm at Gilberton on the Gold Coast.

The facility will be completely automated with only limited staff presence required on site for maintenance.

The renewable energy facility is expected to have save energy generating capacity of 33.47 megawatts.

The annual CO2 saving is expected to be the equivalent of the power consumed by 10,340 homes - or 26,665 passenger vehicles taken off the road.

The project will require solar panel arrays - 48m long by 4m 'tracker tables' separated by a gap of 3.4m

The majority of the pylons will be approximately 1.95 metres in height, which is generally consistent with the average flood depth of the site, the officer's report said.

The panels will have an overall height of 3.65m from ground level, and given a 60 degree inclination.

The site for a proposed solar farm at Gilberton on the Gold Coast.
The site for a proposed solar farm at Gilberton on the Gold Coast.

A proposed substation site will occupy an area of approximately 400sqm, and contain the battery station and the site switch and control room with a small demountable office. Detailed design of the substation has not yet been undertaken.

"It is expected this will occur at the same time the connections application is made to Energex for connection to the electricity grid," officers said.

One objection was received, citing concerns about security, glare, impact on wildlife and potential location of the Coomera Connector. Four others offered support.

Example of battery storage for a proposed solar farm on the Gold Coast at Gilberton.
Example of battery storage for a proposed solar farm on the Gold Coast at Gilberton.

Officers said a visual impact assessment was made and designs changed during the application period.

"Following the initial submission of the application, the footprint of the panels has been significantly reduced and located in an area with limited visibility," the report said.

"Officer assessment has determined the proposed development is appropriately located and will not impact on the amenity values of the locality or the scenic amenity values of the city."

 

 

paul.weston@news.com.au

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Revealed: councillors back new solar farm


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