Guideline to create certainty in Victorian solar energy

Solar manufacturers and those involved in the construction of solar farms have a new guideline in Victoria.

The planning guidelines will apply to large-scale solar farms, and cover decision makers, solar farm developers, and communities.

The document, “Solar Energy Facilities – Design and Development Guideline”, was the product of nine months of development and consultation, in addition to a review of international and interstate best practice standards.

The Victorian government hopes that the guideline will enable further investment and confidence in the sector, while communities, councils, and developers have more certainty and understand the shared outcomes for land, communities, and the environment.

“With solar technology taking off in Victoria, we need to provide clear advice on how to establish best practice facilities in appropriate locations,” said Acting Minister for Planning, Lily D’Ambrosio.

The government is seeking to encourage solar farm developers to build in areas that are connected to the grid and preserve high-productivity agricultural areas.

“The guidelines will help to ensure community consultation is part of the process from an early stage, so local residents are engaged, informed and have an opportunity to provide input before the planning permit is lodged,” said D’Ambrosio.

D’Ambrosio hopes that the new guideline will be a positive force for all involved in the sector, while avoiding conflict between parties.

“Along with providing more certainty to the community, the guidelines will reduce the burden on local councils and give the renewable energy industry more confidence to invest,” said D’Ambrosio.

Late last week, the state’s largest solar farm began operating. The 128-megawatt (MW) Numurkah Solar Farm, built and operated by French company Neoen, supplies energy to the grid to offset the use of energy by Melbourne’s trams.

The new guidelines will support solar farms such as the Numurkah farm, while also fitting in with other legislation, such as those which apply to power lines that connect new solar power to the grid.