What could be Victoria’s largest solar farm on a site south of Mooroopna will go lengths to restoring certainty for the region’s producers following Hazelwood’s closure and amid rising electricity prices, Greater Shepparton City Council says.
An expression of interest call-out period has recently concluded for parties interested in leasing a slab of local land to build a large-scale solar facility in Greater Shepparton.
Council’s investment attraction manager Geraldine Christou said more details on the to-be-constructed facility capable of producing a minimum of 10 megawatts would be released in June.
She hopes the facility will reverse uncertainty caused by extra energy costs estimated as being in the millions for some businesses.
‘‘It’s no secret that (in) business and industry, there’s uncertainty at the moment,’’ Ms Christou said.
‘‘Businesses at the moment ... are rethinking their decision to expand, and that’s based around uncertainty about their overheads and in particular their electricity prices.
‘‘Anything we as a council can do to minimise that impact, create certainty and confidence for our own community, as well as investors, is of benefit to the community.’’
Committee for Greater Shepparton chairman Rob Priestly had observed sharp increases to the price of electricity since the announcement of Hazelwood’s closure and he expected investment in solar and renewables to pick up from here as some businesses could be suffering extra energy costs into the millions this year.
‘‘Prices were moving upwards in the lead up to Hazelwood (closure),’’ Mr Priestly said.
‘‘But certainly they have moved strongly since that announcement.
‘‘The energy price ... it’s now at a level where you’ll see very significant investment in renewables.’’
Ms Christou said 10 megawatts would contribute to the energy supply within the Goulburn Valley, but also send a clear message about Greater Shepparton’s appetite for renewable energy and its objective to help local business be competitive.
She said a clear challenge emerging from engagement with business and industry was the rising cost of power and the uncertainty that created.
While Mr Priestly, also Gouge’s director, welcomed additional renewable supply, he stressed the need for a reliable energy supply outside of daylight hours.
‘‘The conversation needs to be around what happens outside hours the sun shines. There needs to be a system (where it’s) available in those hours,’’ he said.
‘‘Storage may or may not be able to fill the massive demand, time will tell.
‘‘With electricity moving the way it is ... there will be huge investment in solar in the next 12 months.’’
Council has in the past said it had received interest in developing the GV Link site east of Toolamba Rd and the railway line for construction and use as a solar farm.
A report to a council meeting last year detailed that council had been in discussions with parties interested in leasing land for a ‘‘large-scale’’ solar farm.