The Parkes Solar Farm has held its panel installation ceremony at an official event hosted by Neoen and Bouygues Construction Australia.
The ceremony, which took place on June 29 between 11am and 1.30pm, attracted a large gathering at its site at Pat Meredith Drive.
The day featured a number of speeches prior to the panel installation ceremony at 11.50am.
This was followed by a light lunch for guests and a tour of the site at 1pm.
Mayor Ken Keith and Wiradjuri Elder Robert Clegg were part of the occasion, helping to install two of the planned 245,000 solar panels on the 240-hectare plant west of town.
The solar farm will generate 65 megawatts of renewable energy, representing enough to power roughly 30 thousand homes.
Electricity generated from the solar farm will be transmitted to the Parkes TransGrid substation, located only 600 meters from the project, which is connected directly into the national electricity transmission grid.
During the solar farm’s construction phase, Bouygues Construction Australia held a community meeting in March to introduce local residents to the Parkes Solar Farm project.
The meeting, held at the Aastro Dish Motel, attracted more than 25 people, where attendees were give the opportunity to ask questions.
Construction Manager Benoit Arsac said the community was interested to know about all the different components required to build a farm.
Here he said the company will be in Parkes for 12 months.
“We wanted to give people the chance to meet us and ask any questions face to face,” Mr Arsac said.
“The meeting provided a real opportunity to address locals’ queries about the solar farm.
“It is always a pleasure to meet people from the communities in which our projects are located and Parkes is no exception.
“The local community have been really friendly and a pleasure to talk with and their curiosity has been great, especially at the community event where they had some very interesting questions.
“I’ve personally found the discussions I have with the locals regarding the solar farm to be positive.
“My family and I have been here in Parkes for a number of months now and have definitely been welcomed in by the community.”
Some of the questions and answers put forward during the community meeting:
What is a solar cell?
A solar cell is a device that allows us to take energy from sunlight and convert it into electricity.
Do solar panels need cleaning?
Solar panels are usually designed to be self-cleaning with rainfall, however we are investigating a few options for cleaning like a robot.
Will the solar panels glare?
To mitigate glare from the solar panels we will provide a vegetated buffer where the glare has been identified as a hazard.
How the energy is transferred from the solar to the grid?
Electricity generated from the solar farm will be transmitted via underground cabling or overhead transmission lines to the Parkes TransGrid substation, located only 600 meters from the project.
This substation is connected directly into the national electricity transmission grid so the power generated from the Parkes Solar Farm will flow directly into the national interconnected network.
What is the tracking system?
Tracking systems move the panels throughout the day in order to keep them facing the sun. T
he longer they are aligned with the sun, the more energy they can produce.
What is the lifespan of the solar panels?
Photovoltaic (PV) modules typically degrade by about 1% each year.
They usually come with a 20 year warranty to guarantee the panels will produce at least 80% of the rated power after 20 years of use.
Will the solar farm be noisy?
The components sit in insulated boxes, external noise is minimal and given that the components will be in the middle of a field, you’re unlikely ever to hear them.
Does it take long to choose a field for a solar farm?
Solar farms go through a rigorous planning procedure before they are approved.
This takes into account the suitability of the specific site, any potential impact on the area and relevant renewable energy targets.