The first community consultation sessions for the Dinawan Energy Hub were held at the townships of Coleambally on the 7 December, and Jerilderie on the 8 December 2021. Community members could drop in to engage with the Spark Renewables development team, read posters and FAQs about the proposed project, and provide feedback on the proposal via a survey.
The consultation sessions were advertised via local radio stations, newspapers, and mailbox letter drops. Around 30 individuals attended the sessions, including local residents, representatives of farming businesses and local organisations, as well as council staff.
Overall, feedback on the project was generally positive, with interest in the project size, technology, and mitigation of impacts. In terms of concerns, people wanted to understand how Spark Renewables would manage bushfire risk, impacts to native flora and fauna, and biodiversity. There were questions around the availability of workers during peak farming seasons, and plans for decommissioning and rehabilitation.
During the consultation, suggestions were made on potential community benefits, including improving telecommunications to enhance emergency communications, access to an electricity benefit sharing scheme, and a community fund that would provide funding for community projects over the life of the project.
Materials displayed at the consultation session are available here:
Community members that attended the drop-in sessions were encouraged to fill out a survey to evaluate community values around the proposed Dinawan Energy Hub. There were 13 completed responses to the survey. While the sample size is relatively small, it provides insight into some of the priorities of local residents.
Survey responses indicated that the three most beneficial outcomes of the Dinawan Energy Hub would be: investment in the local community (69% of respondents or 9 people), road upgrades (62% or 8 respondents), and clean energy (54% or 7 respondents). One respondent (8%) considered increased tourism and another considered partnerships with Local Aboriginal Land Councils a beneficial outcome.
What aspects about the proposed project would you consider to be most beneficial?
Over half of the respondents (54% or 7 respondents) considered bushfire risk management as the most important concern relating to the project, with just under half of the respondents (46% or 6 respondents) also considering flora and fauna an important issue. Less than 1 in 4 people (23% or 3 respondents) would be concerned with the visual aspect, traffic and road safety, or land use impacts. 2 people (or 15% of respondents) considered noise an important concern and 2 people had no concerns about the project.
What aspects of the proposed project would you consider to be your main concerns?
Of all listed aspects, farming was considered most important by respondents (38% or 5 people), followed by landscape and native flora and fauna (23% or 3 respondents). One respondent considered community or family a valuable aspect in the area, and another respondent considered that to be work opportunities (8%). There were no responses for local history or cultural heritage.
What aspects do you value most in the area?
The survey will remain open and we will continue to collect feedback from the local community and stakeholders as development of the Dinawan Energy Hub proceeds. The survey can be accessed via this link.
Community consultation commences for the proposed Dinawan Energy Hub
21 October 2021
Spark Renewables has commenced community consultation for the proposed Dinawan Energy Hub – a hybrid wind, solar and battery storage project with a generation capacity of up to 2.5 gigawatts.
The project would be located on grazing country about halfway between Coleambally and Jerilderie and would connect to the recently committed Project EnergyConnect interconnector which will pass through the area.
The combined output from the solar and wind farms, coupled with battery storage, would generate enough reliable, clean electricity to power more than one million Australian homes. The project would help mitigate the impact of coal fired power station closures in New South Wales, while offsetting the emission of more than five million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Spark Renewables has organised informal drop-in sessions at the Coly Club on Tuesday, 7 December 2021 and at the Jerilderie Council Hall on Wednesday, 8 December 2021. Both sessions will run from 2pm to 7pm and community members can drop in at any time to meet the team and discuss the project.
Anthony Marriner, Head of Spark Renewables, said: “We have now commenced the development process and are keen to meet the local community. Local knowledge on land-use, community needs and regional priorities provides valuable information that can be incorporated into the project.”
“The project will undergo a rigorous planning and assessment process. If approved, we would look to start construction of the first stage in 2024, with first operations to commence in 2025.”
“The construction and operation of the Dinawan Energy Hub would create more than a thousand jobs and provide economic stimulus to the local businesses and community organisations.”
For those who can’t attend the drop-in sessions, more information can be found on the project website www.dinawanenergyhub.com, including the first project newsletter. The Spark Renewables team can also be reached on 1300 271 419.
This is the first community newsletter of the Dinawan Energy Hub (DEH) – a hybrid wind, solar and battery storage project planned for an area about halfway between Coleambally and Jerilderie on the land of the traditional owners of the Murrumbidgee plains.
What is proposed?
The solar farm would consist of photovoltaic (PV) modules mounted on single axis trackers that slowly rotate and follow the sun from east to west each day. The wind farm would consist of wind turbine generators, typically spaced about 500-1,000m apart and connected via underground cables and all-weather roads.
Once constructed, sheep would continue to graze on both the solar and wind farm land. Spark Renewables has successfully implemented this at Bomen Solar Farm north of Wagga Wagga. A containerised battery energy storage system would be built with the solar farm, enabling electricity to be exported when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.
Our face-to-face open drop-in sessions will be held in the following locations from 2pm-7pm:
TUESDAY, 7 DECEMBER: COLEAMBALLY BOWLING CLUB AUDITORIUM
WEDNESDAY, 8 DECEMBER: JERILDERIE COUNCIL HALL (IAN GILBERT ROOM)
You are welcome to drop in at any time to meet the Spark Renewables team, ask questions and obtain information about the DEH. If you are unable to make these drop-in sessions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1300 271 419 to have a chat or organise another time to meet.
Spark Renewables announces proposal to develop a renewable energy hub of up to 2.5GW in South-West NSW
15 July 2021
Spark Renewables, part of the ASX-100 Spark Infrastructure Group, is pleased to announce plans to develop a renewable energy generation and storage hub for up to 2.5GW in South-West NSW. Following the successful development and construction of its Bomen Solar Farm in NSW in 2020, Spark Renewables is proposing to develop, construct, own and operate the Dinawan Energy Hub – a hybrid wind, solar and battery storage project to be situated in the heart of the South-West Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) in NSW.
The proposed Dinawan Energy Hub forms part of Spark Renewables’ existing development portfolio and forms part of Spark Infrastructure’s Value Build strategic vision to build a sustainable energy future. The proposed Dinawan Energy Hub would be located in the Murrumbidgee Council area about halfway between Coleambally and Jerilderie in the south-west of NSW. It is on the route of the recently committed Project EnergyConnect interconnector which will run between Robertstown in South Australia and Wagga Wagga in NSW.
It is strategically positioned relative to the proposed HumeLink and VNI West (KerangLink) interconnectors. If positively evaluated, the proposed Dinawan Energy Hub is expected to be developed in stages, and once fully complete could provide up to 2.5GW of renewable generation capacity. This is enough electricity to power more than one million Australian homes per year and offset the emission of more than five million tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Head of Spark Renewables Anthony Marriner said “Dinawan Energy Hub is an exciting new project that can accelerate the development of new generation in the South-West REZ, through the establishment of this large, corner-stone project. This will unlock significant renewable generation capacity consisting of wind, solar and battery energy storage across South-West NSW in the coming years, providing resource diversity to renewable generation planned in the other REZs.”
“The proposed major new project, Dinawan Energy Hub, has the potential to open up the South-West Renewable Energy Zone, provide diversity to the generation planned in the other REZs and support high-voltage transmission links to Sydney. The clean renewable power from this new project will significantly offset the impact of coal fired power station closures in New South Wales”.
“There is an important role for the NSW Government to play in supporting this project, which is consistent with their Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap and ambitions for renewable energy zones to be progressed in the State,” he said.
The proposed project is in the early stages of planning with work to commence on preliminary studies and consultation in the coming months. Once approved, it is anticipated that construction of stage 1 would begin in 2024 with the first operations to commence in 2025. Mr Marriner said Spark Renewables was committed to engaging with the community and other stakeholders throughout the planning and assessment process.
“The project must undergo a rigorous planning and assessment process which includes preliminary and detailed environmental studies and extensive community consultation,” he said.
“We are only at the start of the development process and are committed to working with the community and other stakeholders to identify the possible environmental, economic and social impacts and opportunities of what we’re proposing and any required mitigation measures.” For more information on Dinawan Energy Hub, head to www.dinawanenergyhub.com, or email email@example.com.
For interviews, please contact: Anthony Marriner, Head of Spark Renewables M: +61 431 009 818 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bomen Solar Farm fully operational, opens to school visit
30 June 2021
Construction of the Bomen Solar Farm was completed in mid 2020 and since then over 193,000 MWh of electricity has been generated (as at the end of May), more than enough to power all households in Wagga Wagga during the same period! The clean energy produced has also saved over 156,000 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions)*.
Construction was completed on budget and within the expected timeframe, despite the challenges created by COVID-19. This was due to the hard work and dedication by all involved, including Beon Energy Solutions (Bomen Solar Farm’s lead contractor) and the team of employees and subcontractors engaged to deliver the project.
Construction of the solar farm created many jobs in the community, with locals comprising 78% of the 157 employees in the mechanical team. Additionally, positive steps were taken to engage members of groups typically underrepresented in the industry, including First Nations people (39 employees) and women (11 employees).
Beon has been recognised for its consistent efforts in employment initiatives, having been shortlisted multiple times for community engagement awards for a range of innovative programs, including its “Women in Solar” pilot program which was run at Bomen Solar Farm.
This local and inclusive approach is demonstrative of the priority that Bomen Solar Farm has consistently placed on contributing meaningfully to the Wagga Wagga community.
* CO2 displaced is calculated using the National Greenhouse Accounts Factors.
Establishment of $1m community fund to be spent over the next 10 years
Bomen Solar Farm will continue to support the local community via a variety of initiatives. In conjunction with Westpac (who purchases around thirty percent of the electricity generated by the solar farm), Bomen Solar Farm has set up a $1 million Community Fund, with the funds to be deployed over the next decade to programmes that will deliver a diverse range of benefits within the community – assisting school students, promoting biodiversity and greening, contributing to the local fire brigade, and assisting with the living expenses of those living with a disability. Some of the initiatives are set out below:
Mount Austin High School – $500,000 over ten years
The most significant funding initiative from the Community Fund is the establishment of a long-term partnership with Mount Austin High School in Wagga Wagga, with funding of $500,000 being granted to support two important programs at the school over a ten-year period . The ‘Transition Program’ and the ‘Girls @ the Centre’ program, both run from the school, support students’ engagement with school. The ‘Girls @ the Centre’ program will receive $25,000 each year for 10 years.
This program provides a supportive environment for girls to address barriers to school attendance and to engage with their studies. The program was developed four years ago by Mount Austin High School, in partnership with The Smith Family, and has demonstrated success in delivering real rewards within the student community and beyond.
The ‘Transition Program’ will also receive $25,000 each year for 10 years, matched by funding from the school. This program, which will support 52 students this year, was developed by the Mount Austin High to give year 12 students the skills and tools needed to successfully transition from school into the next stage of their lives with meaning and purpose.
Wagga Wagga City Council – $350,000 over ten years
Bomen Solar Farm has finalised a $350,000, multi-year funding agreement with the Wagga Wagga City Council to promote biodiversity and revegetation in the local area. The funding has two components: $250,000 towards a Council-led planting program that will see revegetation of 58 hectares of local land with around 51,000 plants, all endemic species (including eucalypts and acacias). The area to be planted includes a significant parcel of land off East Bomen Road, which has been donated by Council to the program.
In addition, $100,000 has been granted to support a community-led planting program in the Eunony Valley. For this initiative, applications for funding will be called for, then assessed against selection criteria by a Grants Panel comprising members of the local community, Council and Bomen Solar Farm. It is intended that the projects to be supported with this funding will be selected before the end of the year.
Save The Date: Wagga Wagga City Council is holding its annual tree planting day on Sunday, 1 August to coincide with National Tree Day – Australia’s largest community tree-planting and nature care event. Everyone is welcome to attend and representatives from Bomen Solar Farm will be there with sleeves rolled up ready to get their hands dirty for the cause. Look out for Council’s publicity on the event. For more information visit the Wagga Wagga City Council website here. We hope to see you there!
Support for the Eunony Bushfire Brigade – $50,000
The Bomen Solar Farm acknowledges the enormous contribution that local volunteer fire services make to the community. In support of this, we have committed $50,000 to the Eunony Bushfire Brigade, a brigade within the Riverina Zone of the NSW Rural Fire Service, under a funding agreement with Bomen Solar Farm.
$25,000 of this amount went towards an extension to the Brigade’s fire shed to accommodate an additional vehicle. The balance will be granted in $5,000 parcels each year for five years from 2022 and will cover operational expenses incurred by the Brigade.
Solar support for Abbeyfield Kooringal – $10,000
Bomen Solar Farm granted $10,000 to Abbeyfield Australia to support the installation of solar panels at Abbeyfield’s Kooringal facility. The facility consists of six units providing secure and affordable housing for residents living with an intellectual disability, giving them the opportunity to live independently. Since installation, the six solar systems have generated more electricity than is consumed by the residents during the day. Earnings from excess daytime solar generation helps pay for night-time electricity use. Climate Rescue of Wagga (CROW) played a key coordination role for Abbeyfield Kooringal to deliver the project.
“This is a great initiative, that has received strong support from Spark Renewables, Westpac and CORENA, and will have long-standing benefits for a deserving local facility,” CROW Chair William Adlong said. Spark Renewables embraced the partnership with Abbeyfield Kooringal to showcase the benefit that solar power can bring to the community.
Bomen Solar Farm hosts its first school tour
Bomen Solar Farm recently hosted a group of 38 year 10 students from three local high schools as part of a Careers Exploration Day organised by the Association of Independent Schools. This tour was an opportunity to showcase the solar farm, giving students an understanding of how it generates electricity and of the variety of roles that exist in the renewable energy industry to deliver and support a solar farm through all stages of development – from inception through to the delivery of an operational project. Bomen Solar Farm values the opportunity to share knowledge with interested members of the community and plans to make the site available for further tours in the months ahead.
Sheep trial on Bomen has commenced
Sheep trial brings the baa to Bomen
Bomen Solar Farm has committed to explore opportunities to use the solar farm land for agricultural purposes, so that the land can bring benefit in generating renewable energy while also supporting other land uses.
A sheep-grazing trial with a local livestock owner began in February 2021. This trial aims to support sustainable sheep grazing on site in the longer term. The trial began with 70 sheep and is progressing well.
In conducting this trial, Bomen Solar Farm hopes to replicate the success experienced at other solar farms in NSW where sheep grazing has created a win-win. The land is used to generate renewable energy as well as for agriculture, and the sheep grazing assists the solar farm with its ground cover management.
Glare study finalised
Bomen Solar Farm engaged SLR Consulting to conduct a study to assess potential reflective glare and glint arising from the solar PV panels within the solar farm. The study has helped identify operational modes that have the potential to cause reflections at neighbouring dwellings at different times of the day and year.
The results are being used to optimise the solar farm tracking system and manage power outages and maintenance procedures to ensure that any potential glare is avoided as far as possible. We appreciate the feedback from neighbours and their engagement in working with us on this matter. A comprehensive report with the conclusions of the study can be found here.
Please feel free to contact us at email@example.com if you would like to discuss the report in more detail.
Bomen Solar Farm commits $500,000 to long-term partnership
with Mount Austin High School in Wagga Wagga
31 March 2021
Spark Infrastructure’s Bomen Solar Farm, in partnership with Westpac, is excited to have commenced a long-term partnership with Mount Austin High School in Wagga Wagga with grant funding of $500,000 to support two important programs at the school over a decade.
The ‘Transition Program’ and ‘Girls @ the Centre’ program, both run from the school, support students’ engagement with school, not only encouraging them to remain in and complete high school, but also equipping them with the skills they need to successfully embark on their chosen endeavours after finishing school. This year, all 44 final year students (boys and girls) are involved in the Transition Program and 60 girls from years 7-12 are participating in the ‘Girls @ the Centre’ program.
Supporting these programs forms a key part of the broader $1 million community funding program which Bomen Solar Farm has committed to over the next ten years (in partnership with Westpac). Located near Wagga Wagga in NSW, Bomen Solar Farm is committed to contributing positively to the community. Improving the social, educational and employment outcomes for students at Mount Austin High School was identified as a way in which the Bomen Solar Farm could bring significant benefit to the local community.
The ‘Girls @ the Centre’ program, which will receive a $25,000 annual donation from Bomen Solar Farm Community Fund each year for 10 years, supports female students to stay in school and complete Year 12, and provides opportunities to enhance students’ career options. The program was developed four years ago by Mount Austin High School, in partnership with The Smith Family. It has delivered real benefits within the student community, engaging girls with coaches and providing a supportive environment for girls to address barriers to school attendance and to engage with their studies.
The ‘Transition Program’ will benefit from a $25,000 annual donation from Bomen Solar Farm each year for 10 years. This Program was conceptualised by Mount Austin High School, which identified that the best way to assist students graduating was not by supporting one or two students to go to university, but rather by supporting as many students as possible to transition from school into the wider society.
The School found that for many of its students, making the transition into tertiary education or employment is not straightforward, and students benefitted from ongoing support. The donation by Bomen Solar Farm, which is matched by funds from the School, allows important resources to be devoted to helping students to achieve success in their post-school lives.
Principal of Mount Austin High School, Michelle Waugh, explained: “Graduating Year 12 is an accomplishment and is significant for students and families. It is the culmination of years of schooling. At MAHS we want to ensure that each student has a known destination and is supported to achieve beyond the school. The Transition Program will ensure that each student has a transition plan for after school and is supported to reach their goals beyond school. With this funding and support, MAHS will be able to undertake intensive transition planning based on individual need – for some students this may be guidance in the development of necessary documents for enrolment in University, for others it may be employment certificates and skills such as White Card training, for others still it may be support for licenses. Our first cohort to be part of the program are our HSC students 2021.”
Mayor of the City of Wagga Wagga, Councillor Greg Conkey OAM congratulated everyone involved in creating the two programs which support the education and transition into post-school life for young students.
“Navigating the period between leaving high school and entering wider society can be challenging, and Mount Austin High School’s Transition Program is a great way to help students stay connected and feel supported on that journey,” Cr Conkey said.
“Likewise, the ‘Girls @ the Centre’ program is a crucial step towards helping our community’s young women access the education they deserve and support them in preparing for successful and rewarding careers.”
Independent Member for Wagga Wagga, Dr Joe McGirr, has welcomed the announcement of the long-term partnership with Mount Austin High School.
“These two programs are providing significant opportunities for Mount Austin High School students and I thank Spark Infrastructure’s Bomen Solar Farm for making the commitment to being involved in these important programs,” Dr McGirr said.
Anthony Marriner, Head of Renewables at Spark Infrastructure said: “We are delighted to have finalised this donation to two very important programs at Mount Austin High School. We have one of the largest solar farm community funds in Australia and are pleased to be giving back to the local community.”
Bomen Solar Farm: First of 310,000 solar panels installed during “golden row” ceremony
23 August 2019
Highlights: ▪ ‘Golden Row’ ceremony marks commencement of installation of 310,000 bi-facial solar panels at Wagga Wagga’s Bomen Solar Farm ▪ Construction scheduled to complete in March 2020 with the Solar Farm expected to be fully operational by second quarter of 2020 ▪ Bomen Solar Farm will generate enough energy to power the equivalent of 36,000 homes annually ▪ During construction up to 250 workers will be employed, the majority from Wagga Wagga and the region
Spark Infrastructure today celebrated the installation of the first of 310,000 bi-facial solar panels at a ‘Golden Row’ ceremony held at Wagga Wagga’s Bomen Solar Farm.
At the ceremony, Bomen’s owner Spark Infrastructure was joined in installing the first row of panels by Westpac and Flow Power (generation off-takers), Jinko (solar panel supplier) and Wagga Wagga City Council.
Engineering and Construction Contractor for the Farm, Beon Energy Solutions (Beon), will install 310,000 bi-facial panels which are designed to maximise the amount of energy captured and ultimately distributed to the grid by the Farm. Early works have already commenced at the Farm, however, the ‘Golden Row’ marks the beginning of full scale construction.
Spark Infrastructure Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Rick Francis, said: “Spark Infrastructure is delighted to be in Wagga Wagga with our key stakeholders in the project to celebrate the official launch of construction at Bomen Solar Farm.
“Spark Infrastructure and Beon are excited to be working with Westpac, Jinko and Flow Power, to deliver a major piece of renewable energy infrastructure to Wagga Wagga. We are proud to be working with the Wagga Wagga community to create jobs during and after the project’s construction. We are especially proud alongside Westpac to be supporting the local community through a $1 million community fund dedicated to providing local scholarships, youth and biodiversity programs across the region,” Mr Francis added.
Beon General Manger, Glen Thomson said: “Today’s installation is a major milestone for the Bomen Solar Farm development and the Wagga Wagga region. Construction will begin in earnest on Monday now that the first row of solar panels has been installed. And within a few weeks we will have a team of up to 250 on site, the majority of whom will be local. We are also pleased to be training a number of local apprentices during construction. This training will set them up to work in the growing solar sector across the Riverina and the nation,” Mr Thomson said.
Spark Infrastructure and Beon confirmed that the 120-megawatt capacity Farm will complete construction in March 2020 with Bomen expected to be fully operational by the second quarter of 2020.
Mr Francis said: “We are strongly supportive of the need to reduce carbon emissions and the drive towards more renewable energy, with Bomen Solar Farm being our flagship investment in renewables. When fully operational, Bomen will produce enough clean energy to power 36,000 homes per year.” Spark Infrastructure acquired the Farm in April 2019.
This significant project for the region is supported by its strong grid location and proximity to TransGrid’s Wagga North substation.