A PROPOSED solar farm in Axedale could power up to 55,000 homes across Bendigo and the Campaspe Shire.
Company UPC Renewables Australia has unveiled plans to build a 180 megawatt solar farm seven kilometres outside of town and is preparing to lodge planning applications with both the shire and the City of Greater Bendigo.
The company hopes to gain planning approvals by late 2019 and to build the solar farm over 12 to 18 months.
The proposal has been welcomed the Bendigo Sustainability Group after UPC predicted as many as 250 people working on construction at the project's peak.
"We are really excited about this opportunity and see it a s a great pathway to future employment for the Bendigo community, and of course for promoting renewables in our region," the group's Chris Weir said.
The plan is one of a number of projects proposed for land near to Bendigo, where the city's council wants to transition to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2036.
Mining company GBM Gold has proposed $100 million plans to transform disused evaporation ponds in Woodvale into a solar farm supplying 60 megawatts of power to thousands of Bendigo homes.
Meanwhile, the Bendigo Sustainability Group is calling for farmers interested in leasing their land for a two megawatt project to come forward.
That project could one day power 500 homes and could be a model for future projects around Bendigo, Mr Weir said.
He sees a place for smaller operations like the BSG proposal, alongside "one or two" big solar projects like the one proposed for Axedale.
The Axedale site has been chosen because it is right on an Ausnet transmission network, close to major sources of demand and because of its flat topography, UPC's head of solar development Killian Wentrup said.
"In 2018, the area was identified by the City of Greater Bendigo as being well suited to a grid-connected scale solar farm project," he said.
UPC plans to allow landowners to graze sheep within the solar farm once construction was complete, Mr Wentrup said.
"Ongoing sheep grazing is a win-win for farmers and the solar farm as it will help manage vegetation whilst ensuring continued agricultural use of the land," he said.
"At the end of its life, the solar farm will be completely decommissioned and the site returned to a condition suitable for agricultural use."
The solar farm is expected to operate for 30 years.
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