Community-owned wind farm, Hepburn Wind, could soon become a hybrid renewable energy facility – comprising wind, solar and battery storage.
The Hepburn Community Wind Park Co-operative this month submitted a planning application to the Victorian government for the Hepburn Energy Park.
If successful, it would see a 7.44MW solar farm installed next to two existing wind turbines on Leonards Hill, just outside Daylesford.
The plans for the solar farm would almost double the co-operative’s energy generation and could offset an additional 1500 homes.
The plans also allow for a future battery storage facility of 10MWh.
General Manager of Hepburn Wind, Taryn Lane, said the co-operative had been working closely with its landowners, the Liversidge family, to develop a proposal that would protect the high-quality agricultural landscape.
She said the solar array would be installed on the least arable area of the farm using a technology called PEG, which reduces the footprint of the solar system by more than 50 per cent.
The array would also be a mixture of east-west and north-south orientation so the system can fit into the natural topography.
The Hepburn Z-Net community transition plan, released in 2019, outlined how the community could reach zero-net energy by 2025 and zero-net emissions by 2030.
It stated that local energy generation through household and mid-scale community solar needed to be maximised to reach these targets, and the plan for the energy park would be a substantial contribution towards this.
The addition of solar to the wind farm has been in the works for many years and was made possible by a $500,000 state government grant, through the Renewable Communities program, in 2018.
Ms Lane said the development at the wind farm site would be ideal as there was existing grid availability, while it would also allow the co-operative to maximise its $1.6 million grid upgrade from 2010.
“By building solar at the farm, we will be making the most of this asset and be closer to our zero-net emissions target for 2030,” Ms Lane said.
“Adding solar to wind generation is very complementary and will make us more resilient in years of drought.
“The solar farm will perform well and in wetter years the wind farm will – helping us to be adaptable in a more variable climate.”
She added that adding battery storage at some point in the future would ensure that the local distribution network was able to be more reliable, particularly in bushfire seasons.
“As always, our aim is to make our community more sustainable and resilient, while growing awareness about the need to cut emissions and build clean energy.
“We hope that this new project will demonstrate how communities can work towards these changes.”
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