THERE are almost $2 billion worth of renewable energy projects on the table for New England, which will bring hundreds of jobs to the region.
These include a $330m solar farm near Armidale, a $170m solar farm at Narrabri, a $101m windfarm at Woolbrook and a massive $1.2b wind farm on the edge of the Liverpool Plains.
While all the projects have yet to be approved, Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said the fact a number of companies were willingly to invest millions of dollars was a massive endorsement in the region’s potential.
“Our region has all the ingredients to be the renewable energy hub of the state and the eastern seaboard,” he told The Leader.
Mr Marshall, who is also the Parliamentary Secretary for Renewable Energy, said the developments provided a huge stimulus to regional economies.
“You only have to walk around Glen Innes to see the impact the construction of one wind farm is having,” he said.
“The White Rock Wind Farm has 275 full time construction staff, the majority are locals. That’s provided a boost to the hospitality industry and local businesses because of the extra money flowing through the town.
“When the project is finished there will be 20 ongoing jobs – people might say that’s not many, but in a country community it’s huge.”
The 300MW Armidale Metz Solar Farm would be by far the largest solar development in the state – almost three times larger than Nygan’s 102MW solar plant.
It would have 1.2m solar panels over a 950ha-site, located about 5kms south-east of Hillgrove. Proprietors Infinergy have already negotiated a 30 year lease for the land.
The project would employ 100 people during its construction, with up to eight ongoing jobs once completed.
CleanGen’s Narrabri Solar Farm would produce 120MW, enough to power 46,000 homes every year.
The proposed site is located just out of town on Logans Ln. The company has estimated 280 jobs will be created during the construction, with 10 to 14 ongoing jobs.
The Woolbrook Wind Farm, located about 7kms south of the town, would produce 120MW with up to 30 turbines.
Newtricity says it’s development would save 1.3m tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, while powering 34,300 homes annually.
There is no estimate on jobs, but a similar sized project the company is developing on the Southern Tablelands cites 74 construction jobs and seven ongoing.
The gigantic 1008MW Liverpool Range Wind Farm would be the largest in the state, powering 525,000 homes.
Located near Coolah, the development would span three local government areas – Liverpool Plains Shire, Upper Hunter and Warrumbungle Shire councils.
It would have up to 550 wind turbines and six sub-stations, with 829 construction jobs and 78 ongoing jobs.
While the other projects are in the early planning stage, the Liverpool Range Wind Farm is is much further down the track.
Proprietors Epuron have been developing the plans since 2010.
The NSW Department of Industry said it was actively supporting renewable energy projects and investment for the benefit of the state’s regional communities
“The Department is excited about the number of renewable energy projects in the pipeline for the New England region and about the vital role renewable energy will play in Australia’s future,” a Department spokesperson said.