SIMEC Zen Energy’s $350 million Cultana Solar Farm development has received planning approval from the South Australian Government. The solar farm is part of a billion dollar renewable energy program in the Whyalla region of South Australia.
The 280MW solar farm will comprise of approximately 780,000 solar panels and will generate enough renewable energy to power up to 100,000 homes.
As part of the development approval granted to SIMEC Zen Energy, a condition to reduce impact on native vegetation in the area has been set and the project developer should submit environmental management plans for construction and operations before works can commence on site.
“The proposed vegetation/habitat removal has been approved by the Native Vegetation Council and vegetation requiring trimming or removal will be progressively cleared.
“An exclusion zone will be enforced around retained native vegetation to ensure the quality of this vegetation is not impacted by the development. Roadside vegetation screening will be retained and enhanced with additional planting, where required, to reduce the visual impact of the solar panels,” SIMEC Chief Executive Marc Barrington said.
Construction of the Cultana Solar Farm is expected to generate up to 350 jobs and a further 10 ongoing positions once it is operational.
Works are anticipated to begin in October of this year and could take 12-15 months to complete.
According to Mr Barrington, the company and the projects engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) partner will prioritise employing workers from Whyalla, the Upper Spencer Gulf region and the rest of South Australia.
“We have communicated widely within the local community on the employment possibilities available and encourage anyone interested in understanding the opportunities available to contact us.
“We’ll also have an apprenticeship program once again targeting the local community, with the aim of taking these apprentices from construction into operations and maintenance,” Mr Barrington said.
The $1 billion renewable energy program will also include a lithium-ion battery storage system; a future expansion of the solar farm; a co-generation scheme that utilises waste gas from the nearby Whyalla steelworks; and pumped-hydro projects for the Middleback Ranges.
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