Victoria introduces new guidelines to smooth the way for solar farms
Victorian government issues solar guidelines as green energy booms and the number of solar farms grow.
The Solar Energy Facilities guidelines come at a time when both large-scale and at-home solar technology is developing rapidly.
In a move that demonstrates just how seriously the Victorian Government is taking green energy, the Acting Minister for Planning Lily D’Ambrosio has released comprehensive new guidelines to help ensure that large-scale solar farms are planned properly.
The guidelines were developed over a nine-month period and incorporate feedback from a variety of stakeholders, including local councils, community groups and industry bodies. The Andrews Government also looked interstate and internationally for best-practice examples of solar-farm development.
The government hopes the new document will boost sector confidence and encourage local investment, while also providing protections for high-productivity agricultural areas and sensitive landscapes.
“With solar technology taking off in Victoria, we need to provide clear advice on how to establish best-practice facilities in appropriate locations,” says D’Ambrosio.
“Along with providing more certainty to the community, the guidelines will reduce the burden on local councils and give the renewable energy industry more confidence to invest.”
The Victorian guidelines arrive less than a year after the NSW Government released a similar document to help councils and businesses better deal with the booming solar industry. As of December 2018, the NSW Government and independent regional planning panels had approved a total of 49 large-scale solar energy projects in the state, with a total capacity of more than 3300 megawatts – enough to power more than a million homes.
It’s a similar story right around the country. In the past two months alone, 48 solar and wind projects were switched on, and there are another 170 currently being planned or constructed. Green energy analyst Tristan Edis recently told the ABC’s 7.30 program that renewable energy could eventually meet the grid-electricity needs of the entire country – and Australia could even start exporting energy.
But it’s not just large-scale solar projects that are ramping up: small-scale rooftop solar is surging in popularity, too. In December 2018, the Clean Energy Council announced that the number of Australian homes with solar panels had reached two million, and that panels continue to be added around the country at a rate of six panels per minute. The council said electricity costs remained the primary reason homeowners were installing, and that the average Australian household could save $540 a year on energy bills.
As solar uptake continues and the market matures, manufacturers are developing new products that make rooftop solar an even more attractive proposition for homeowners. One such product is Bristile’s Integrated Solar Tile, made from 45-watt premium monocrystalline solar cells and low-iron, hail-resistant tempered glass. Unlike regular solar panels, which can be eyesores on your roof, Bristile Solar Tiles are sleek and discreet, and can be laid seamlessly in combination with concrete or ceramic roof tiles. Oracle Platinum Homes has already begun using the system in one of their display homes, and other customers have praised the energy savings on bills.
Bristile uses only the highest quality components, which means it can guarantee its solar roof packages will generate power for 25 years. There’s also the option of connecting to a state-of-the-art Sonnen battery storage unit, which can help you further reduce – or even eliminate – your reliance on grid electricity.