Blind Creek Solar Farm and Battery Project
Developing a solar and batter project in NSW with regenerative agriculture at its heart.
Octopus Australia focuses on investing into renewable energy assets in Australia. We’re committed to making sure the farms we run and invest in maintain ties with local communities and provide more homes with clean energy.
Location: Near Bungendore, New South Wales (NSW), Australia.
Homes powered: More than 110,000 homes.
Renewable energy generated: 660,000MWh each year (equivalent to removing 200,000 cars from the road).
Jobs created: Up to 300 full-time jobs during peak construction and approximately 5 full-time positions during operation.
Size: 700ha of land is directly within the footprint of the development.
The Blind Creek solar farm and battery project is a development-stage renewable energy project near Bungendore, in NSW, with a capacity of up to 350MWac of solar and 300MW/600MWh of storage. It is proposed to connect to a strong area of the transmission network, into the existing 330kV line between the major load centres of Sydney, Canberra and Snowy Hydro.
The project was founded and developed by a group of local farmers and renewable energy experts. Their goal is to realise the potential of their land to host a farmer-led, utility scale, solar and battery project, co-locating renewable energy and sheep production. The farmers have strong historical and ongoing personal connections to the project site and local area and are the same family who have lived on and farmed the site for over 150 years. The proposed solar farm will co-exist with rotational grass-fed lamb production, allowing for short periods of intensive grazing. Suitable grass species will be planted immediately below the solar panels. Panel spacing will allow tractor access and grassland enhancements for grazing lambs. In addition to the introduction of regenerative agriculture, the site will also support a carbon sequestration project, biodiversity and landscape restoration initiatives and green waste humus production.
“From the outset our goal was to co-locate renewable energy with regenerative agriculture and carbon sequestration while maintaining sheep production. We also had a clear vision of how we wanted to involve our local community in the project. Our relationship with Octopus and the CEFC means our commitment to create a more sustainable future for our family farm and positive outcomes for our community has taken an exciting step forward”.
Dominic Osborne, Project Founder and Landowner
It was also part of the founders’ vision that neighbours who are impacted by the project should benefit financially from it. The result of this vision is a unique Community Benefit Sharing Scheme (CBSS) that will contribute $330 per MW per year to the local community. For a 350MW solar farm this will allow key stakeholders and the community to share between $2m and $3.4m, depending on whether the funds are spent up front or over the project life (and this will scale up or down depending on the size of the project). A portion of this will go to the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council (through a Voluntary Planning Agreement) and be put towards the new Bungendore swimming pool and/or other facilities within the planned Bungendore sports precinct. The remainder of the money will go directly to neighbours impacted by the project, ranging from near neighbours to those on the other side of Lake George, some 7km away. Neighbours are encouraged, via the agreements we have with them, to spend this money on local projects which are aligned with a vision of sustainable agriculture, environmental restoration, and community building. The CBSS will also fund an Indigenous Cultural and Heritage learning zone near the shore of Weereewa / Lake Ngungara / Lake George to allow Indigenous Elders to educate Indigenous communities and the local community of Bungendore and school children about the area’s significance. The area is between the proposed edge of the solar array and the lake. This will provide access to the lake from the eastern shore for the first time in over 150 years for Indigenous peoples, as the lake is largely locked in by freehold land, and the wider community. The project was the winner of the Clean Energy Council’s Community 2022 Engagement Award for its benefit sharing scheme and agri-solar initiatives.
The project’s Environmental Impact Statement can be viewed on the Department of Planning & Environment’s (DPE) Major Projects portal here.