Peninsula eco-solar farm a ‘world-first’

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HOPES are high that a “hyper-intelligent” eco-solar farm will be built on the outskirts of Dromana. 

Bunjil Energy and renewable energy developer Volt Farmer have applied for Mornington Peninsula Shire permission to create the 4MW solar farm to ramp up the southern peninsula’s electricity supply and power 1000 homes. It is hoped the pilot site will get the council’s nod mid-year. 

The energy company says the plant will produce clean energy as well as provide an “education experience centre and climate smart agricultural showcase” on Collins Road.

Bunjil Energy founder Isaac Harrison launched the project at a gathering of industry representatives, linked-interest groups, politicians, councillors, principals and farming bodies, Friday 15 February.

The project combines solar farm technology with regenerative agriculture and high local shared value. The latest in sensors and data analysis tools will aim to give schools and colleges access to teaching resources on renewable energy, soil biological health, water management, indigenous history and sustainable landscape management.

“Our focus is on creating a better Australian energy company that will promote fair prices for the local community, create positive social impacts and improve environmental outcomes for all Australians,” Mr Harrison said.

Blockchain technology will be trialled for energy and natural capital trading in the pilot project. Members of the community will be offered the opportunity to invest in the project reinforcing the direct local benefits: cheaper power and local ownership, he said.

“Renewable energy projects play an important role in creating local value and opportunity,” Mr Harrison said. 

“The Volt Farmer model provides an amazing blend of advanced renewable energy production with carbon absorbing regenerative agriculture technology.

“As an Indigenous Australian energy company we are excited to be able to deliver a project that promotes harnessing renewable energy and repairs the landscape.”

The project also creates social impact credits for community groups to be spent on environmental planting, subsidised electricity and education programs.

Dromana Industrial Association’s John Plumridge and Rosebud Business Estate’s Nicole Nicolle lobbied to attract the pioneering project to the peninsula. “Local businesses are fed up being overcharged for electricity and have welcomed the opportunity to support this solar farm as it will provide access to low cost, clean and reliable energy,” Mr Plumridge said.

United Energy was said to be working with technology company GreenSync and Mornington Peninsula Shire Council to overcome power constraints on the peninsula with an improved demand-management program. 

Volt Farmer’s Stephen Todd said: “With the additional demand being forecast for electric car charging and a [rising] population, the inclusion of highly responsive and intelligent clean energy farms has been welcomed by United Energy.”

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 26 February 2019

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