First Pirie solar farm opens

Jay MacGregor, Ian Gibson, Andrew King, Harry King, Rob Purves and Hon Jones.
Jay MacGregor, Ian Gibson, Andrew King, Harry King, Rob Purves and Hon Jones.

The first of many solar farms to pop up in Pirie has been officially opened, with its output already being distributed throughout the power grid.

The Pirie solar farm, developed by Renew Power Group initially met the land owner of the Pirie Blocks Road land in 2017 and progressed the development from there.

Kevin Heydt, the director of renewable management for Renew Power Group says that after extensive analysis, they knew that the land was a good spot for a solar farm.

"We knew it was possible to connect to the grid and we also knew that the Port Pirie Regional Council would look favourably on an application. Everything came together.

"The construction was about five months, the contractor was on site from about early January and we got the first energy out during May," Mr Heydt said.

The solar farm is producing clean, renewable energy when the sun is shining and Mr Heydt says that with farms popping up frequently, it will help reduce power prices.

"It should absolutely cut costs as more and more renewables replace the void left by the coal fired stations. More generation is required in South Australia and you are blessed with a fantastic sun and wind resource that it makes sense that new generation from solar and wind is used."

The farm, situated off of Abattoirs Road will produce about 12,000 megawatt hours per annum, which put into averages will power about 2,000 homes.

Mr Heydt says there are many benefits to the project which includes lower emissions, but says with new technology, renewable energy is earning a better reputation.

"Coupled with new technologies around batteries, the old problem with renewables being intermittent and not being sure when the wind will blow or the sun will shine, with batteries that solves that problem and that is becoming an increasingly economic solution."

Deputy mayor of Port Pirie Regional Council Alan Zubrinich attended the opening and says this is an exciting time for Port Pirie.

"I think several people have said around the community that it is our time for Pirie and I certainly agree with that. We have really got heaps of things happening at the moment. We are hoping that we can entice more economic growth to our particular patch.

"We have another four on the drawing board at the moment which is wonderful news for the Port Pirie community," deputy mayor Zubrinich said.

"We have plenty of sunshine to share, it is a wonderful renewable resource."

Mr Heydt says that they are currently selling the power to the national electricity market but would like to change that if possible.

"At the moment the power is sold to the national electricity market but if we could sell it directly to a local South Australian business, we would be delighted to do that," he said.

OPENING: The ribbon cutting at the opening of the Port Pirie solar farm.

OPENING: The ribbon cutting at the opening of the Port Pirie solar farm.