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Bellambi Heights Renewable Project

Project Name Bellambi Heights Renewable Project
Technology Solar Photovoltaic | Battery Energy Storage System
Capacity 200 MW Solar | 200 MW BESS
Project Size 304 ha
Location Beryl, New South Wales
Commercial Operation Date TBC

PROJECT OVERVIEW

The Bellambi Heights Renewable Project (BHRP) includes a large-scale 200 MW solar farm, a 200 MW Battery Energy Storage System (BESS), and associated infrastructure. The Project’s solar farm will generate approximately 400 gigawatt-hours of energy annually, which is enough power to supply the electricity needs of up to 92,000 homes. The proposed BESS would have the provisions for up to 2 hours of storage, which is approximately 146 GWh or the equivalent of supporting the needs of 161,000 homes annually.  

The project area provides a strong point of connection to the transmission network, making it an ideal site for increasing generation capacity on the NSW electricity grid with minimal requirements for additional transmission infrastructure. The solar resource available in the Central West Region of NSW, particularly Beryl, is relatively high and suited to efficient and high-output generation.

The project will play an important role in achieving the objectives of the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone. It will also provide significant economic stimulus to the region through construction jobs and associated flow-on benefits.

Project History

The project has been in development since 2018, during which time VEA has reviewed several options for the development and consulted with key stakeholders and the community to identify the optimal project configuration. The project area was investigated for the development of renewable energy projects as it is adjacent to existing and planned transmission infrastructure and in a locality with abundant solar resources.

In 2019, a preliminary concept for the project was presented to the local community and stakeholders as the ‘Gulgong Solar Farm’. The concept consisted of three stages, across non-contiguous properties with up to 500 MW of solar and 600 MW of BESS with six hours of storage capacity.

After hearing the early community feedback on this concept, we have listened and revised our design to mitigate impacts to the community by significantly reducing the development footprint.

Project Refinement

After listening to the community and learning from your early feedback, Vena Energy has responded by making significant refinements to the Project, which include:

  • Project Identity
  • Revision of project name to Bellambi Heights Renewable Project.
  • Development Footprint
  • Scaling down from three stages to one.
  • Reduction in development footprint from 820ha to 304ha.
  • Over an 80% decrease in the number of sensitive receivers within 500m of the site.
  • Generation Capacity 
  • Revised solar generation capacity from 500MW to 200MW, which can generate approximately 400 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of energy annually which is enough to power approximately 92,000 homes.
  • Revised BESS from 600MW to 200MW. The BESS will have two hours of storage capacity, the equivalent of powering approximately 161,000 homes annually.
  • Visual Mitigation
  • Relocation of administrative and control facilities to a less prominent location on site.
  • Provision of native vegetation screening which varies in width between 10-20m, established inside the site, beyond the existing vegetated road reserve.
  • Excluding 5ha in the northwest corner of the site from the potential buildable footprint, mitigating views from the Highway.
  • Transportation and Access
  • Over 70% reduction in the Project’s highway frontage.
  • Relocation of the main access point from Castlereagh Highway to Puggoon Road.
  • The project will be refined further through the preparation of an EIS and detailed design. Further consultation is planned with the community and stakeholders.

Planning Process

The BHRP is a State Significant Development (SSD), and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is required. Vena Energy Australia’s BHRP is in the initial Scoping Stage of the SSD Process, as shown below.

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry, and Environment’s Rapid Assessment Framework outlines current requirements for the scoping stage of the BHRP, which are detailed below.

State Significant Development Guideline – This guide (SSD Guideline) provides a detailed explanation of the assessment of State significant development in NSW, describing each step of SSD assessment. It ensures all SSD projects are subject to a comprehensive assessment in accordance with government legislation, plans, policies, and guidelines and that this assessment is proportionate to the scale and impacts of the project. It introduces new requirements to ensure all environmental assessment reports submitted to the Department are succinct, easy to understand, technically robust, reflect community views and provide a comprehensive evaluation of the SSD project as a whole.

Preparing a Scoping Report – This guide (SSD Guideline Appendix A) provides a detailed explanation of the Department’s form and content requirements for Scoping Reports. It seeks to ensure that all Scoping Reports submitted to the Department are prepared to a high standard and consistent. It also seeks to ensure that they are as succinct as possible and easy to understand and that they clearly identify the matters that the applicant proposes to assess in the EIS and the community engagement that the applicant proposes to carry out during the preparation of the EIS. This guide will improve the setting of SEARs for SSD projects and help to ensure that all SEARs are proportionate to the scale and likely impacts of the project.

Undertaking Engagement Guidelines for State Significant Development – This guideline sets out the expectations of DPIE for early and effective engagement on State significant projects in NSW. It provides a framework for carrying out engagement that is meaningful and tailored to the needs of the community, local councils, and government agencies. Effective engagement underpins a transparent and fair environmental assessment.

Cumulative Impact Assessment Guidelines for State Significant Projects 
– The purpose of this guideline is to set clear expectations and requirements for assessing the cumulative impacts of State significant projects. It seeks to ensure this assessment:

  • Integrates decision-making on projects with decision-making on the broader strategic planning framework.
  • Focuses on the things that matter (e.g. key natural and built features).
  • Is proportionate to the impacts of the project and any material cumulative impacts that may result in the wider area from the project operating in conjunction with other relevant future projects.

Engagement

The goals of Vena Energy Australia’s engagement process are to give the community opportunities to:

  • Take up early engagement opportunities to understand the project.
  • Provide feedback about aspects of the project which they support, do not support, or wish to be adjusted.
  • Provide clear reasons for any concerns so Vena Energy Australia may consider possible alternate approaches.

To introduce the refined BHRP we are currently commencing a second round of engagement activities with the local community, Mid-Western Regional Council, NSW Farmers, and other key stakeholders in preparation for lodgement of our request for the Secretary’s Environment Assessment Requirements. To this end, we encourage you to make contact using the following methods detailed below.

Submit your contact details online – Vena Energy Australia will be contacting those consulted during the early project phase as well as additional community members, local groups, and stakeholders to invite participation in the next phase of engagement for the project. If you would like an opportunity to discuss the Project and our next steps in person, please register your details by completing the online form.

Social Impact Assessment community survey – We are currently preparing a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) for the BHRP. We are seeking your feedback and participation in this process over the coming months to understand community perceptions of the Project better. You are invited to participate in an online community survey to help inform the SIA, which will take approximately 15 minutes to complete.

You can also contact us directly using the details in the contact section below.

Benefits

As an emerging leader in sustainable energy development in Australia, Vena Energy Australia understands that our long-term success goes hand-in-hand with enhancing the broader well-being of the communities and regions in which we operate. 

The BHRP has a significant development, construction, and operations budget, which will result in a positive contribution to the local, regional and national economies. The project will help to insulate the regional electricity market from fluctuations in fuel prices by increasing the diversity of the energy system. 

Vena Energy Australia supports a local procurement policy and will promote participation from local, regional, and Australian suppliers wherever possible. Local purchasing is likely to include a wide range of products and services from fencing contractors, concreters, welders, electricians, plant and equipment operators, transport contractors, and administrators. 

If all components of the Project were constructed concurrently, a peak workforce of around 220-400 will be required to build the entire BHRP concurrently. The project’s 12-to-18-month construction period will result in an increased demand for local accommodation, food, and local services.

Closer to construction, Vena Energy will provide the community with an invitation to express interest in employment opportunities and the provision of construction and maintenance services.

Following construction, there will be a 5 to 8 full-time and part-time operation and maintenance positions throughout the operational lifespan of the project. Maintenance activities include electrical maintenance, site management and administration, environmental services, weed control, fire management, site security, and cleaning of the solar panels. 

Project Documentation

Community Information Package

This document  provides an overview of the BHRP, its refinement, the next steps, an introduction to Vena Energy and how to get involved. The Project Team is sharing this document as part of the scoping phase engagement.

Project Brochure

This document provides a brief introduction to the BHRP and the SSD assessment process.

February 2022

Community Information Package

February 2022

Project Brochure

News

News and mentions relevant to the BHRP will be posted here, such as news articles or future stakeholder events or activities.

Feedback

Vena Energy Australia is committed to delivering world-class renewable energy projects that better serve the interests of our communities and stakeholders.

Further to this commitment, we take pride in keeping an open ear, so we invite you to get in touch if you have any feedback or require additional Project information, please contact us via the platforms below.

Bellambi Heights Project Team

Phone: 1800 841 229
Email: bhrp.mailbox@venaenergy.com