Spanning across approximately 187 hectares of land, the Benger Solar Farm will be located approximately 15 km south of Harvey and 20 km north-east of the Bunbury township in Western Australia.
With a proposed capacity of approximately 100 megawatts, the project is expected to generate enough clean energy to supply around 35,000 homes. This will assist Australia in minimising carbon emissions by approximately 210,000 tonnes per year.
The project is currently under development and we are expecting to commence construction in 2020 with full operation in 2022.
SOLAR FARM DESIGN
Benger Solar Farm will comprise solar panels similar to those found on ordinary residential homes. Individual panels will be approximately 1m wide by 2m high and will be attached to single axis tracking systems that follow the sun from east to west, maximising sun exposure and power production.
Raised approximately 2m above the ground, the panels will be between 2 and 4m high, with maximum height reached early and late in the day, when the panels are tilted to capture the sun at its lowest. To avoid shading and enable access, the tracking systems will be spaced approximately 8m apart, which means they will only cover about half of the available land.
These large gaps between the solar panels (not to mention the 2m of space beneath them) can be put to agricultural uses such as sheep grazing. This practice has become commonplace globally, with sheep thriving in the sheltered conditions.
A landscape buﬀer will be provided along the project boundary to protect the area’s visual amenity. Landscaping will include a mix of indigenous shrubs and trees of varied heights and will have the added beneﬁt of creating important new habitats for native fauna, thus supporting the region’s biodiversity.
The solar farm will be set back from the boundary. This includes landscape buﬀering and an additional ﬁrebreak, which will double as an internal access track.
HOW WILL THE PROJECT OPERATE?
The Benger Solar Farm will comprise of solar PV panels that are similar to those found on ordinary residential homes. These panels will be fastened to single-axis tracking structures that slowly rotate from east to west, tracking the sun’s movement across the sky. The tracking system increases the panels’ exposure to the sun and maximises their power output.
The electricity produced by the solar PV arrays is converted from Direct Current (DC) to Alternating Current (AC) by electronic power inverters. Next, it goes through transformers where the voltage is stepped up successively to the required level for grid connection. From there, the power flows into the grid, where it is distributed through the Wholesale Electricity Market (WEM) for the South West Interconnected System of Western Australia (SWIS). The SWIS incorporates over 7,800 km of transmission lines, making it the largest interconnected power system in Western Australia.
Benger Solar Farm is expected to bring empowerment and economic growth to the local community. Our continual open dialogue with local residents, community groups, the Council and relevant authorities ensures that all opinions and ideas are considered in the process. We appreciate the input from members of the local community and always strive to work in conjunction with them to resolve any enquiries about the project.
Furthermore, we have commissioned a range of in-depth environmental assessments and engineering studies to identify and manage any potential impacts to the environment. These include, but are not limited to:
- Preservation of cultural and heritage sites;
- Management of traffic conditions;
- Protecting the local ecology (both flora and fauna) by managing environmental risks;
- Surface water evaluations to ensure the integrity of the existing watercourse; and
- Visual landscaping and using vegetation as natural screening from the surrounding area.
|Commence consultation and landowner agreement||Ongoing|
|Submit Development Application to the Harvey Shire Council||Submitted|
|Commence construction (subject to Council approval)||Est. late 2020|
|Benger Solar Farm operational||2022|
|Reinstall full agricultural use or, if permitted, upgrade solar farm equipment||2050-2055|