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A new community solar farm

Starfish’s Farming the Sun community solar energy collaboration has today begun work on a possible new community solar farm, situated on the outskirts of Uralla in the NSW High Country.

This opportunity has come about with thanks to local solar innovators, Meralli Solar. While the Uralla project could be Meralli’s sixth solarfarm, it could be the first where locals might be able to directly invest in the project ~ which is how we have come to be involved.

Meralli’s process is unique, and very well suited in our view, for community solarfarms due to their compact size, sensitive design, broad community benefits and value for money.

Meralli use a ‘PEG framing system’ which has an ultra-low profile and ultra-compact footprint. The solarfarm:

  • stands only 80cm above the ground
  • can be easily screened with hedging and other plantings
  • is safer and quicker to build, operate and maintain
  • can be installed in tight formation

The proposed size of around 9MWDC would need only about 6 hectares of land.

A solarfarm of this size generates a similar amount of electricity to that used by a community the size of the nearby township of Uralla.

Local procurement is prioritised for both construction and maintenance including labourers, trades, consumable suppliers, food and accommodation providers.

Since the Meralli process does not require a large or specialised workforce, these are significant local opportunities, especially for the small rural communities that we are so passionate about!

All up, the gains from these innovations means that Meralli has been able to build grid competitive solarfarms without government or taxpayer support. This is great value for money.

To date, Meralli’s projects have been co-funded by small numbers mostly local investors, albeit with larger amounts invested. Many investors live nearby the projects.

For this Uralla project, we are looking to also open up investment for a larger number of locals who could invest and be part-owners with a relatively small minimum investment amount.

Starfish and Meralli have been working at this project concept for a few years, but it is just now ~ that they have secured an option to purchase what could prove to be a suitable site ~ that we can begin engaging with the community and stakeholders.

This project is in its very early stages, with many details now to be worked through including: site suitability, grid connection, development application and approval, finalising the community investment structure and gaining community interest and support.

We would welcome your interest in our updates as we work the project pathway.

You can sign up for project news here.

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