PHOTON Energy’s managing director has responded to criticism from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party’s Robert Brown in NSW Parliament about the proposed solar farm at Brewongle, on Bathurst’s outskirts.
I noticed that you made a speech about Photon Energy’s proposed solar farm at Brewongle. I would like to provide you with some facts regarding the proposal.
Photon Energy has received an opinion from agronomist Ross Yelland from Yellco AG which provides a contrary view to Keiran Knight. Ms Knight’s commentary was not based on knowledge of the specific site or the layout of the solar farm.
Ms Knight’s comments of plant biology were based on the assumption that there was inadequate spacing between solar panels or access for farm vehicles. The panels are in fact spaced to allow the free movement of machinery and equipment for maintenance of pasture for grazing, care and movement of stock.
Mr Yelland, who has over 15 years’ experience as an agronomist in the Central West, examined the actual layout and design of the farming system and said: “Based on the dimensions for panels provided and the ‘inter row’ spacing, it would appear on face value there will be options for mechanical, chemical and synthetic manipulation of pasture and weed species.”
You should also know that a full soil analysis is being conducted as part of the environmental assessment. Together with local farming expertise, Photon will ensure appropriate soil conditioning, species selection, weed control and stocking regimes.
There are numerous examples of sustainable management of solar farms on agricultural land here in Australia and across the world. Solar farming benefits the agricultural sector by delivering farm revenues to landholders regardless of the weather conditions or commodity prices.
Solar farms require no surface or ground water and the shading they produce can enhance soil moisture and animal health during more extreme weather.
Solar is part of the solution to replace ageing power plants and currently all the solar energy produced can be used during the day. As such, storage is not required unless more solar is produced than can be used in real time. Generally, about 30pc of our energy supply can come from solar before it needs to be stored. Currently solar is only contributing a few per cent of our energy.
The Brewongle solar farm will create 100 jobs in the construction phase of the project and support up to 10 ongoing jobs throughout the operation of the solar farm. Local contractors and suppliers will be employed wherever possible with many flow-on local economic benefits.
Many local contractors have already contacted us about participating in the construction and operation of the solar farm.
The matter that thermal flux around each panel can reach hundreds of degrees Celsius is nonsense. We are proposing a solar photovoltaic farm, not a solar thermal farm. The solar panels are designed to directly convert solar energy into electricity, not capture the sun’s heat and concentrate it, as in a solar thermal farm.
Sheep have been happily grazing among solar photovoltaic farms all over the world for over 10 years and so far the effect you have described has never been observed.
Sheep currently graze the treeless plains of Brewongle with very little protection. The solar panels we are proposing will provide a cool place to shade from sun and from extreme weather events. We are working together with local farmers and agronomists to implement management plans over the life of the Brewongle solar farm that utilise these benefits and allow for the productive use of land for both harvesting energy and agricultural production.
Photon Energy is a reputable, publicly listed company. In our 10 years of operation we have never left a single solar farm idle and continue to reliably produce solar energy for the benefit of the economy and communities where we operate.
Photon Energy was co-founded by me, an Australian, who set up the company 10 years ago in Europe and came back to Australia to develop, build, own and operate clean and reliable solar power projects that replace ageing and unreliable power generation equipment at the lowest possible cost.