A development application has been conditionally approved by Adelaide Hills Council for a solar farm with battery storage on the outskirts of Birdwood. But the project going ahead is not a done deal.
Tetris Energy wants to build a 4.98MWac solar facility it says will generate an estimated 12,500 MWh of clean electricity each year. A 4 MWh battery storage facility may also be included, but this is unlikely to be integrated from the outset.
The proposed facility is to be located on an already cleared site adjacent to the intersection of Warren Road and Torrens Valley Road and will connect to the Angas Creek to Tungkillo 33kV line. The 4.98MW capacity was chosen as it fits well with current loading on the line and there is also less red tape to deal with when generators are under 5MW in terms of licensing.
Tetris Energy says the solar panels to be used may be bifacial, it look like the inverters will be supplied by SMA and battery storage will be â€śsimilar to thatâ€ť installed at Hornsdale Power Reserve (Tesla).
While solar farms arenâ€™t specifically listed as an envisaged use within the Birdwood area, the Council Assessment Panel noted renewable energy facilities are generally supported by Councilâ€™s Development Plan policies when established in appropriate areas. There is a intention for continued sheep grazing on the land under and around the solar panel arrays.
The Birdwood Solar and Storage Project will be situated quite close to Birdwood homes â€“ just a few hundred metres from the nearest residence. Zooming in on Google Earth shows the 3 houses closest to the site have solar panels installed; so those households will certainly be familiar with the benefits of PV.
In Birdwood, solar panels are a very common sight. 303 small-scale systems had been installed in Birdwoodâ€™s postcode as at September 30, which is a very impressive tally given a population just north of 1,200.
While Birdwood residents may be embracing solar panels for their rooftops, this doesnâ€™t mean the solar farm is being welcomed with open arms. The Council Assessment Panel notes:
â€śSeventy eight representations in opposition and two representation (sic) in support of the proposal were received during the Category 3 public notification period.â€ť
Recognising community concerns, Tetris Energy made some adjustments to its plans, including using a single axis tracking system, engaging in extensive landscaping to create vegetation screens and painting all buildings Woodland Grey to blend in better with the surrounds.
But these adjustments donâ€™t necessarily mean the project will go ahead. Itâ€™s not clear how well-received the changes were and the Council Assessment Panel decision can be appealed with the Environment, Resources and Development Court.