FAQS

SOLAR

How long does it take to build a solar farm?
The construction timeframe depends on the project size and the number of workers deployed on site.

For a 100 MW power plant, an 8 to 12-month timeframe is typical, with a peak construction period of 2 to 3 months.

A large project like Eglinton will take around 12 to 18 months to construct with a peak construction period of 5 to 8 months.

What technology does Neoen use to build its solar farms?
Neoen uses similar technology to that used in residential solar photovoltaic installations with the main difference being that panels are usually mounted on systems that track the sun through the sky.

The Eglinton Solar Farm will use premium quality solar panels and battery technology provided by leading manufacturers, selected through a competitive process. All components come with long warranty periods; solar panels and inverters are generally warrantied for 20 to 25 years.

What is the life cycle of a solar farm?
A solar farm will typically operate for between 25 and 30 years.

Depending on the local environment, the panels can generate electricity for 30 years or more with only about 0.5% efficiency loss each year.

How does solar generation work?
When photon of light shine on a solar panel they knock electrons free on an electrical circuit and product electricity.

Inverters regulate the accumulation of electricity from a selection of solar panels and at the substation the electricity is distributed to the grid.

The angle at which the light hits the panel relates to the amount of energy that can be harvested from it, which is why tracking systems help to optimise solar generation.

How high are solar panels?

Most solar panels are 1m x 2m in size.

Arrays of solar panels are usually 30, 60 or 90 m long.

Rows of panels are separated by 5 to 7m. However, this can vary from project to project. Depending on project and on the time of the day the height of rows is between 1.5 to 2.9m for rows spaced by 5 to 7 meters.

How do you stop the solar facilities from impacting our landscape?
We acknowledge that solar facilities do impact the visual amenity of its near area, and we work with communities to ensure they have the lowest possible impact on visual amenity. Neoen encourage individuals and groups that have questions about visual impact and remedies to engage with us early. Overall, we consider that the immediate and long-term benefits which solar farms bring to communities offset any loss of visual amenity.
Will the solar panels generate glare?
Photovoltaic panels are designed to reflect as little light as possible (generally around 2%) in order to maximise their efficiency. This is why solar farms are not considered reflective and have been installed at or near number of airports.

ECONOMY

Do solar farms benefit the Australian/local economy?

Each project benefits the local community by creating employment.

At Neoen’s Coleambally Solar Farm 300 people were employed locally during the construction phase and five people are now employed locally in full-time positions during operations.

Neoen provides opportunities for local contractors to submit tenders and local jobseekers to seek employment by hosting a series of contractor sessions in the local area prior to any construction commencing. In addition, Neoen establishes Community Benefit-sharing Program to deliver benefits to the local community.

How much do renewables cost compared with other energy sources?
Renewable energy projects are now the cheapest sources of new energy generation. Solar energy projects produce energy at less than $50 per megawatt hour. The costs of other sources of generation are:

  • Existing coal: approximately $40 per megawatt hour
  • Combined gas-cycle: approximately $75 per megawatt hour
  • New coal: approximately $130 per megawatt hour
Who pays for any transmission upgrades required?
Neoen pays for any electrical transmission upgrades necessary to connect and operate the project in the electricity grid. This includes construction and maintenance costs for the life of the project.
Do solar farms result in a decrease in electricity prices?
Solar energy forms just one part of the Australian Energy Market Operators (AEMO) move towards renewable energy. Solar farms add to the supply side of the electricity supply-demand equation, which puts downward pressure on all electricity bills.
Does Neoen require government subsidies to build its projects?

Neoen does not require government subsidies to finance its projects.

We finance our projects through a combination of our own equity and long-term bank loans. However, we sometimes enter into agreements with governments or businesses to sell the power produced by our projects.

Who assesses the projects?

All Neoen projects meet strict State and Federal Government regulations and are assessed under these regulations.

We work closely with governments to ensure we meet all legal requirements and exceed these requirements wherever possible.

This project is a State Significant Development and will be assessed by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment of NSW.

Health And Culture

Are there any health risks associated with solar farms?

Solar panels are deployed on more than 25% of Australian homes and have been deployed for the past 10 to 15 years on people’s homes in the world.

No health issues have been associated with solar panels and the Eglinton Solar Farm would use the same type of technology.

Can solar farms’ noise affect local residents?
Solar farms create no noise during operations.
Will the project reduce air quality?

Monitoring of dust levels during construction is a basic requirement of each project.

Dust generating activities are assessed during windy conditions and are stopped and rescheduled where adequate control of dust generation cannot be achieved.

Visual observation of machinery is undertaken during site inspections in addition to daily pre-start checks which ensure all machinery has appropriate emission control devices, is in good working order and is maintained correctly.

Is cultural heritage taken into consideration?

Neoen complies with all legislation, including laws regarding the protection of cultural heritage.

A cultural heritage assessment forms part of initial studies as does consultation with local Indigenous groups to ensure cultural heritage is protected.

Environment

Do solar farms impact on flora and fauna?

Neoen engages specialist consultants to undertake detailed flora and fauna surveys to determine the ecological attributes of the land.

On all of our projects, we aim to minimise the impact on flora and fauna by designing projects to be constructed outside areas of high conservation significance and adopting control measures during the construction process.

Other mitigation measures include preparing management plans, identifying ‘no-go zones’ within the project site and conducting pre-clearance surveys.

Neoen also consults with government departments of environment and biodiversity throughout the development, construction and operational stages of projects, as well as local non-government organisations.

Do solar farms affect farm/domestic animals?
Neoen owns and operates the Coleambally, Griffith, and Parkes solar farms on multiple properties in New South Wales.

We have sheep grazing on many of our solar farms and conducted a sheep grazing trial at Parkes Solar Farm.

Sheep take a couple of days to get used to the site, and then are very comfortable with them – they use the shade from the solar arrays during summer.

How is any potential fire risk managed?
There is no inherent fire risk attached to photovoltaic panels or solar farms.

There is a cleared vegetation zone around the edges of the solar farms to prevent fire propagation. This is complemented by a strict vegetation management plan.

How will the solar farm impact trees and biodiversity ?

Two of the advantages of the proposed solar site are:

1. Relatively few trees compared with surrounding land, and,
2. Trees within the project boundary are concentrated along the gullies.

When Neoen designs the solar farm these gullies will always be protected. We consider these gullies an important part of biodiversity exclusion zones.
Impacts on biodiversity across the site will be assessed during the preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement, which we will be preparing over the course of the next six to twelve months with the help of biodiversity experts. They will undertake extensive studies and surveys to identify the and detail how we can minimize impacts across the site. Neoen has also contacted the local Land care Coordinator and is looking forward to getting further local land care groups’ input as the project progresses.

How will the project impact on productive agricultural land ?
All five of Neoen’s operational solar farms now combine sheep grazing with energy generation so that the land beneath and beside the solar panels will continue to be productive agricultural land. Graziers on our solar farms are reporting that this co-location supports high stocking rates, particularly during drought conditions where the solar panels tend to concentrate moisture and promote better pastural growth.

Please see our Dubbo Solar Sheep video.

How will the project affect potential future residential development ?
The potential of this area to be re-zoned in the future for residential development is a matter for Council, but we do note that residential development is likely to have a greater impact on the loss of biodiversity and agricultural land.