Solar farm flagged for airport site

Talitha WolfeAlbany Advertiser

Albany is another step closer to achieving its total renewable- energy target with a solar-energy farm proposed for the region.

The City of Albany has confirmed a solar farm is on the cards with Albany Regional Airport flagged as a viable location.

Chief executive Andrew Sharpe told the Albany Advertiser the City was in the early stages of exploring solar farm possibilities and said such proposals would complement the City’s renewable agenda.

“We are in the very early stages of doing some preliminary feasibility and exploring what might be possible on the solar front in terms of developing a solar farm here in Albany,” he said. We do have vision longer term that we would like to take Albany to a point that we have total renewable energy.”

The Albany Advertiser understands a lease proposal by renewable-energy company Blue Planet Developments for land past the Albany Regional Airport will go to the City of Albany council meeting on Tuesday.

The proponents of the confidential item have successfully secured a similar lease for a solar farm in the Shire of Kulin. The lease, approved in principle by the Shire council, will facilitate a PV solar farm, which will generate 4-5MW on about 254ha of land. Securing a long-term lease arrangement will be a major challenge in confirming solar-energy proponents but Mr Sharpe said they have had interest from several parties for several locations, including the airport.

“We are looking at a few locations ... there are also possibilities around our airport we would like to explore potentially getting better use,” he said.

“In Darwin, they have put a solar installation around their airport. I think there is more on the east coast, so there is a possibility we could use some of our airport land.”

The Albany Wind Farm can currently generate up to 80 per cent of Albany’s 40MW daily energy needs and although Carnegie Clean Energy has proposed a 10MW wave energy installation off the coast of Albany, Mr Sharpe said a further 10MW solar farm installation would put Albany closer to being wholly renewable energy powered.

“Potentially long term, with solar energy, wave energy and wind, if we got up to point of producing 80MW or 100MW, all of that could go back into the grid and supply green energy to other users,” he said.

“In terms of people saying Albany doesn’t get enough sunshine, that’s not quite true because places like Europe are all lower solar array than Albany so it is possible to do it here.”

Although the City of Albany has yet to meet further with the State Government about solar energy, Member for Albany Peter Watson said he supports the idea. “We could be the energy capital of regional Australia and even Australia,” he said. “Being at the end of the (power) grid is better. It means we will have a continuous supply and will help other areas like Bremer Bay and Jerramungup, which have ... a lot of break downs.

“It’s a great opportunity for the whole Great Southern.”

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