Tuesday, 19 September 2017

IN the wake of current federal political ‘navel gazing’ about the value of renewable energy, local State MP Adam Marshall has moved to reassure the community of his strong support for renewables and the development of current and future projects in the Northern Tablelands.

Mr Marshall said that despite some of the State’s largest wind and solar projects under construction or in operation, the region had only ‘scratched the surface’ of the enormous potential and opportunities for renewable energy projects.

“I am unabashedly a strong advocate for the renewable energy sector and the jobs, investment and growth that it’s bringing to the Northern Tablelands and other parts of rural and regional NSW,” Mr Marshall said.

“There are obviously environmental and importantly some huge economic gains as well – hundreds of millions of dollars of investment, job opportunities and diversification of our local economies – positives that our communities have been seeking for many years.”

Mr Marshall pointed to the Moree Solar Farm and the Inverell and Glen Innes windfarm projects as tangible examples of progress being made in the region by the renewables sector.

“The NSW Government has also just given approval for a 400,000 panel Metz Solar Farm near Armidale and a few weeks ago I visited a 3.6 megawatt solar facility which has just been completed outside of Boggabilla,” he said.

“Combined with the Moree solar farm and the three wind farms, the Northern Tablelands has 821 megawatts of large scale renewable energy development approved or in construction. This is enough to power more than 170,000 average family homes each year.

“For the first time in our region’s history, we are on the cusp of being a net exporter of energy, reversing the historic trend and building wealth in our communities – we are fast becoming the renewable energy hub of NSW and Australia.”

Mr Marshall said the Metz Solar farm would produce enough energy to power 40,000 homes, making it one of the nation’s largest photovoltaic arrays. It will have tremendous local benefit too – creating 150 jobs during the construction phase and eight ongoing for the farm’s 30 year lifespan.

“Boggabilla’s new solar farm is a much smaller enterprise – but no less impressive in its own right. Entirely funded by private investment, the farm will power Boggabilla seven times over, while preventing thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere,” he said.

“Constructed next to the Macintyre River, the four-hectare facility proves how easily renewables can coexist with agriculture. Just metres from the facility’s fence, fertile farming land is still able to be used with no impact on water or productivity.”

Mr Marshall said it was vital that governments at all levels continued to support the development of current and future renewables projects.

“Politics being what it is at the moment, I realise that some have varying views on aspects of some renewable technologies and projects, but we can all see the huge benefits these sorts of projects can bring and are bringing to our region,” he said.

Mr Marshall said NSW was leading Australia in large-scale solar projects and last year renewable energy contributed 14 per cent of the generation output in New South Wales.

“In the five years to March 2016, the share of generation from solar, wind and bioenergy sources more than doubled and more than a quarter of the generation capacity installed in New South Wales is renewable generation,” he said.

“In New South Wales alone, the renewables sector employs approximately 5,000 people directly and supports a further 15,000 jobs.

“Figures from last year indicated New South Wales had approximately 1,000 megawatts of large-scale solar projects in the planning system or awaiting development approval – this represented an estimated $2 billion of investment and up to 1,600 full-time jobs in construction and operation—and most of those are located in regional areas.”

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