Newstead’s solar farm plan

Renewable Newstead members Saide Gray, Gen Barlow, Geoff Park and Don Culvenor are excited about their solar farm plan. Photo: Eve Lamb

Plans for a small-scale solar farm, big enough to generate enough electricity for Newstead, have opened for public review.
Renewable Newstead, the community group behind the plan for a solar farm of up to 10 megawatt, said the planning permit application was a great step towards its goal of delivering affordable and reliable renewable energy to Newstead and surrounds.
“We have applied for a permit to build a solar farm big enough to generate enough electricity for Newstead (2-3MW) plus some extra to make it viable for a commercial partner to build and operate,” RN’s spokesperson Gen Barlow said.
“Our permit, if granted, will allow a solar array of up to 10MW or up to 27,400 solar photovoltaic panels, though the size is not finalised. The panels will track the sun.”
The proposed site is the corner of Captains Gully Road and Clarke Lane, 3km west of Newstead. The panels would cover about 20 hectares of the 73-hectare site.
This site was chosen from six sites offered by local landowners in response to the group’s call for expressions of interest in leasing land for the farm.
The land is currently grazed and will be leased from its owner for 25 years. Grazing will continue.
The solar array will be connected to the current 22kV powerline 500 metres north of the site that runs along the Pyrenees Highway.
“While the farm plan itself is fairly standard, albeit modest in size, it’s the model for the farm’s operation and retailing the electricity generated by it that is especially innovative and one that we think will excite the energy industry,” Gen said.
“We believe our model will deliver renewably-sourced electricity at lower prices to all, including renters and people who can’t afford to install solar panels at home, while also accounting for grid costs. That’s a pretty good trifecta and one we think solves a lot of issues for delivering renewable energy locally.
“Power distributor Powercor partnered with us to trial a special tariff for Newstead that will help this project deliver.”
It’s expected construction would begin within 12 months of the planning permit being granted.
The planning permit application is open for review and a decision by the Planning Minister is not expected before September 23, 2020.
Renewable Newstead would also welcome any feedback, comment or queries via email at or via the website at
In another key step, Renewable Newstead last week called for expressions of interest from companies keen to build and operate the generator and retail the electricity it produces.
This will set the stage for a formal call for tenders for these contracts later this year.