A proposal to build a 20 hectare (45 acre) solar farm on the southern outskirts of Cootamundra has been submitted to Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council. The farm, estimated to cost $8-9 million and comprising 36,000 solar panels, is proposed for an industrial site at the corner of Gundagai Road and Cowcumbla Street.
According to the application, it will supply power to the NSW grid through Essential Energy, but the Herald believes negotiations are being held with two local large power-consuming businesses which could save big sums by being supplied directly by the farm. It has also been suggested batteries may later be installed at the site to ensure power is available when demand is highest. Each solar panel will be about 2m wide and 1m deep, and the farm is expected to generate 12 MW of electricity, enough to supply 2,500 homes.
Council has forwarded the development application to neighbouring businesses in the industrially-zoned area, giving them 28 days to lodge objections. “The panels will be arranged in rows of three at a vertical tilt of 25 degrees facing due north,” the development application stated. “Glass used in solar panels reflects just two per cent of light received, and during the hours of 9am-4pm potential glare will be directed towards the sky.”
As well as 40 acres of solar collectors, the development will include an operations and maintenance building, a training school and a viewing platform. The training school and maintenance building will be together in the north-western corner, and the viewing platform in a central position. The training centre will use repurposed shipping containers to give a “low energy footprint”.
“The site is currently used for grazing stock which is proposed to continue as a means of vegetation and ground fuel management,” the application said. The site of the solar farm was purchased two years ago by Coota Sun Farm Pty Ltd, which has agreed to lease it to the two major investors, Torus Group Electrical Pty Ltd and Lotus Renewables, both of Melbourne. Coota Sun Farm Pty Ltd is owned by a Sydney man with local connections, but the Herald has been asked not to reveal his identity at this stage.