Vast Solar exhibits plans for 50MW sun power expansion

The 6MW trial plant at Vast Solar's Jemalong site.

 The 6MWth CSP trial plant at Vast Solar’s Jemalong site.

Plans to add a 50MW photovoltaic solar power plant – enough to power 18,700 homes – to Vast Solar’s Jemalong solar farm are now on exhibition.

Vast Solar has a pilot 6MW Concentrated Solar Thermal Power Plant (CSP) at the property, and plans for a further 30MW plant.

But the CSP technology, which allows electricity to be stored so it can provide sun power through the peak evening period after the sun has gone down, is still in development and Vast Solar is now looking to build a 50MW photovoltaic system first.

“The PV is mature, proven technology,” CEO Craig Wood said.

The company hopes to now build that on the site slated for the 30MW CSP plant, which will move to the next paddock.

In future, Mr Wood explained, the solar thermal technology will be able to “wrap around” that system and boost its capacity to provide renewable energy after the sun goes down.

The 6MW pilot plant was connected to the grid early this year, then disconnected to make improvements.

At this stage Vast Solar hopes to reconnect it again in the new year.

“The 30MW CSP is on the agenda, but we need the data out of that pilot plant,” Mr Wood said.

The proposal is now out for community feedback through the Department of Planning and Environment.

Clay Preshaw, Director of Resource and Energy Assessments, said the public can review Vast Solar’s plans, and make a submission, until December 21.

“Vast Solar are proposing a large-scale solar farm, and associated infrastructure, which could generate renewable energy for 18,700 homes with a 50-megawatt capacity,” Mr Preshaw said.

“It’s easy for the community to review the proposal and they can make a submission online by visiting the Department’s website.

“Alternatively, locals can visit Forbes Shire Council to read a hard copy and post a submission.

Mr Preshaw said the company had previously proposed a solar generation facility at the same site that would generate electricity using solar thermal technology rather than photovoltaic solar panels.

“The development application for the solar thermal plant will be amended by the company and the plant moved to an area adjacent to the site,” Mr Preshaw said.

“The department will re-exhibit the amended plans for public feedback next year.”

To read the proposal online and make a submission, visit http://www.majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au/index.pl?action=view_job&job_id=8803