Going solar suits some but those living near proposed Richmond Valley Solar farm are not happy

What the Richmond Valley Solar Farm will look like. Photo: Ark Energy

Susanna Freymark

Let’s go solar. Across the world, in Australia and NSW, there is a push for alternative energy including wind and solar power.

Gray Pritchett from Swan Bay was at a community information session about the Richmond Valley Solar Farm at Ellangowan Hall last month.

He supports solar power as an energy source.

“If not now, when? If not us who? How can we justify saying to our children we had a solution to the climate change problem, but we didn’t like how it looked,” Mr Pritchett said.

Ark Energy, the company behind the 1620 hectare Richmond Valley solar farm estimates the Myrtle Creek project will have a generation capacity up to 500 megawatts and the battery will have a power capacity of 275 megawatts.

The farm is 7km from Rappville and 25km from Casino. The flat land was previously used for private forestry.

Location of the Richmond Valley Solar Farm.

The BESS (Battery Energy Storage System) will use lithium-iron phosphate technology with an energy storage capacity of up to 2200 megawatt hours over 8 hours.

The selling point for Ark Energy is the closeness to the transmission network – the Coffs Harbour to Lismore powerline intersects in the northwest corner of the site.

Ark Energy isn’t the only company interested in the Richmond Valley.

Residents said there are three large-scale solar farms proposed in the area close to the transmission network.

Residents talk to Ark Energy representatives at Ellangowan Hall.

There is the Korean-owned Ark Energy’s Richmond Valley Solar Farm, Terrain Solar’s Myrtle Creek Solar Farm and the Swedish-owned Summerville Solar Farm.

IndyNR.com spoke to a resident, who asked not to be named, who lives on a hill that overlooks the solar farm.

She is opposed to the Richmond Valley Solar Farm. She has many reasons for her opposition including the fire risk of the proposed large BESS.

Myrtle Creek is an area prone to bushfire risk and it sits next to a dense native forest, she said.

“The RFS isn’t equipped to deal with lithium battery fire, which self-oxygenates and can take days to extinguish.

“And the proposed site is on a floodplain.”

With state and federal governments supporting solar energy, farms are popping up all over the country. See the map below.

Renew Energy map of solar sites in Australia. Green is operational, orange is under construction.

Is there compensation from the energy company or the government for families that live close to these new solar farms? Should they have a choice to move if they wish?

The glint from the solar panels once erected is also a concern to neighbours who were at Ellangowan Hall for the community consultation with Ark Energy representatives.

Ark Energy is doing a social impact survey which residents can fill out by September 22.

Solar farms in NSW are considered to be a State Significant Development and are assessed by the NSW Department of Planning, Housing and Infrastructure.

Find out more about the Ark Energy Richmond Valley Solar Farm here.

There is a petition against large-scale solar farms in the Northern Rivers here.

Residents look at the maps of the solar farm location. Photos: Susanna Freymark

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