The site where the new solar farm will be built near Kingaroy.
The site where the new solar farm will be built near Kingaroy. Tobi Loftus

Everything you need to know about the Kingaroy solar farm

A MAN whose Kingaroy property could be surrounded by a proposed solar farm has raised concerns about the project.

Nigal Reinbott bought land at Kingaroy Barkers Creek Rd several years ago and is in the process of building a home on the site.

If Terrain Solar's facility is approved by the council, MrReinbott's property would be surrounded on three sides by solar panels, though he said the view was not his greatest concern.

"It's good-quality agriculture land that will never again be able to be cropped,” Mr Reinbott said.

"At the moment it's been left to go to grazing country, but with a turn of a plough it can be cropped again and feed the community.”

OBJECTIONS: Nigal Reinbott in his home looking out at the fields that could soon be covered in solar panels if a solar farm gets the go-ahead.
OBJECTIONS: Nigal Reinbott in his home looking out at the fields that could soon be covered in solar panels if a solar farm gets the go-ahead. Tobi Loftus

The proposed 80 hectare solar farm would be located 3km outside of Kingaroy.

Mr Reinbott said he was concerned that once the solar project concluded in the future, underground cables and concrete would mean the ground could not be ploughed again.

Terrain Solar managing director Chris Wilson said the proposed site hadn't been actively cropped for some time and had only been used for grazing.

"In any case, we intend to graze sheep through the proposed solar farm as a way of managing ground cover,” Mr Wilson said.

"This practice has been successfully adopted in other solar farms in Queensland, such as the University of Queensland's School of Veterinary Science at their solar farm in Gatton.

"At the end of the solar farm's operational life, (it) will be decommissioned with all of the infrastructure being removed from site and sold as scrap metal, recycled or otherwise disposed of at approved facilities.

The plans for the proposed Kingaroy Solar Farm.
The plans for the proposed Kingaroy Solar Farm. Contributed

"As part of decommissioning, the land will be restored to its pre-existing agricultural use and value.”

South Burnett Regional Council is accepting public submissions on the project until December 19.

Mr Reinbott said the 20days given to respond to the proposal was not long enough, especially for elderly neighbours who also had concerns, but Mayor Keith Campbell said this was within the normal time frame for developments.

"Whether it is too short or too long that is the period of time we have to enable this information to come forward as the project assessment can't be completed until it has gone out to public consultation,” Cr Campbell said.

Mr Reinbott said he also had concerns about the reflection of the panels, noise and electromagnetic fiels impacting on television signals and mobile reception. He said a number of neigbhours he had spoken with shared those concerns.

The project:

Mr Wilson said the project would create local employment opportunities through its construction and ongoing maintenance.

"During construction the project will provide direct employment of up to 100 skilled and semi-skilled workers, including fitters, mobile plant and equipment operators, electricians and the like,” he said.

"Post construction there will be less permanently based roles (generally up to 3 FTEs), but significantly more indirect opportunities as the solar farm will need to be continually maintained and have equipment replaced and refreshed over its lifetime.

"In addition, once up and running the solar farm will generate approximately 100,000 megawatt-hours of renewable energy each year, which is enough to supply over 15,000 Queensland homes. This will help put downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices in the region and when combined with the nearby Coopers Gap Wind Farm currently under construction the solar farm will help transform the region into a hub for renewable energy.”

The site where the new solar farm will be built near Kingaroy.
The site where the new solar farm will be built near Kingaroy. Tobi Loftus

Mr Wilson said Terrain Solar chose Kingaroy for the project as it was strategically located in an area of high solar irradiance and temperate conditions making it an ideal climate for solar generation.

"Access to the Ergon Energy substation was also a key factor in determining the location for the solar farm allowing electricity to be readily exported into the grid and to nearby towns such as Murgon, Yarraman and Boondoona,” he said.

"Local employment and local supply chain was also an important factor in choosing Kingaroy.

"Pending Council's decision on the project we aim to start construction mid way through 2018 with energy generating during the summer of 2018/19.”

Mr Wilson also addressed several more of Mr Reinbott's concerns.

Reflection of the solar panels

"The solar panels proposed to be used for the project are designed to absorb light to maximise their energy generation rather than reflect light,” Mr Wilson said.

"In addition the solar panels will track the sun which results in less reflection compared to solar panels which are fixed in position.

"The steel posts will be galvanised steel and generally will be relatively dull in appearance. In any case the steel posts will largely be shaded by the solar panels which are designed to track the sun.”

The plans for the proposed Kingaroy Solar Farm.
The plans for the proposed Kingaroy Solar Farm. Contributed

Noise from the Solar Farm

"The noise generated by a solar panel tracker is approximately 60 decibels which is roughly equivalent to the sound of a conversation or the noise from an air conditioner,” Mr Wilson said.

"Importantly the solar farm will only operate during the day therefore very little noise is expected during the evening and night time periods.

"In any case the solar farm will be designed to fully comply with the Environmental Protection (Noise) Policy published by the Queensland Government for both daytime and night time noise levels.”

Electromagnetic Fields (EMF)

"Solar panels are commonplace to many Australian homes and run at a low voltage with direct current meaning there is really no EMF generated,” Mr Wilson said.

"However, the solar farm needs to convert the electricity from the solar panel to the grid voltage to allow connection into Ergon Energy's network.

"Within the solar farm this is transmitted via underground cables which have metallic screens significantly reducing EMF, which would be largely undetectable outside of the solar farm.

"The solar farm will connect into Ergon Energy's network via the existing transmission line that runs down Kingaroy Barkers Creek Road.

"The EMF characteristics will be relatively similar to the pre-existing EMF associated with the transmission line and in any case will be designed to fully comply with Ergon Energy's EMF Design Recommendations.”

To view the planning documents and make a submission visit the South Burnett Regional Council Website.

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