Guess what? There’s been an application for the use and development of a renewable energy facility — or solar farm — at 21 Collins Rd in Dromana, and we’re interested. The subject site is 40.5ha and is located at the intersection of Nepean Highway and Collins Rd opposite the Dromana Industrial Estate. But what’s exciting about this Bellakama Pty Ltd proposal — which, at the time of Mornington Peninsula Magazine going to press, the Mornington Peninsula Shire was apparently keen to pass — is its forward-thinking commitment to a renewable energy future.
The proposed site has an area of cultural heritage sensitivity associated with Sheepwash Creek, which runs through it and is known for its extensive biodiversity, but because the farm would be developed outside this area, there’s been no need for a cultural heritage management plan in accordance with the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.
So what would this proposed renewable energy farm in the Mornington Peninsula’s Green Wedge zone look like? It would be a four-megawatt peak solar farm consisting of 12,768 individual modules aligned east/west. Included would be a 140sq m inverter, a transformer station and two equipment sheds each 20m in length, 7m wide and 4m high. A 22kV main switchboard connection station would be erected and two 27,000-litre rainwater tanks would be installed too. A 1.8m high chain link fencing would secure the site while fruit trees would be planted for screening purposes, and no concrete is required.
The State Government has a target of 25 per cent renewal energy generation by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025. This proposed solar farm close to home has been deemed as being in an entirely appropriate location as far as infrastructure is concerned, and a letter of support from United Energy has been provided with the application.
While some homeowners have solar panels on their roofs, solar farms are intended to generate enough electricity to supply multiple houses and businesses. They don’t make much noise but there are concerns that even though they generate no emissions that are potentially harmful to human health, they may contribute to the degradation of habitat and perhaps harm wildlife. Time will tell.