Australia’s largest solar farm gets planning approval from ACT minister

The 20 megawatt (MW) Royalla solar farm has been granted planning approval by ACT Environment and Sustainable Development minister Simon Corbell. This approval marks the next step in putting the solar plant online. Once built, Royalla will claim the title of largest solar system from the current record-holder–Western Australia’s 10MW Greenough River Solar Farm in Geraldton.

The Royalla solar farm will also be the first utility-scale solar project to be developed under the ACT’s ambitious reverse-auction feed-in tariff for large-scale solar. Solar plant developer FRV was selected to become the first recipient of the incentive–essentially a power purchase agreement (PPA) with a contract for difference–in September of 2012. However, approvals and construction will take longer. The solar farm is expected to come online some time in 2014, and will produce enough solar energy to power 4,500 ACT homes.

Minister Corbell exercised special powers conferred to him under the ACT’s Planning Development Act 2007 to streamline the application process for the plant, invoking the fact that it “responds to a major policy issue and will deliver a substantial public benefit”. Although this means that the Royalla solar farm will not be subject to all of standard approval criteria of a development of its size, FRV will still be required to address a number of special requirements explicitly laid out by Mr Corbell. These include all of the standard environmental procedures such as an environmental impact assessment, creating of an environmental management agreement, and pollution control plans.

Construction of the plant is not being celebrated by everyone involved, however. NSW residents in the area bordering the proposed plant have expressed concern that their voices will not be heard by the ACT government, as they are outside of the ACT’s jurisdiction. In response to these fears, ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has stressed that all stakeholders will involved in the consultation process on an ongoing basis. “We will continue to work with residents who are concerned,” she said.

Solar Choice Commercial: Commercial solar tender management

Solar Choice also develops its own medium to large scale solar farms, and has gained considerable experience in all relevant stages of project management, from planning approvals through to Power Purchase Agreement negotiations and grid connectivity. We also have a large portfolio of land owners across Australia looking to lease their properties for solar farming. If you would like Solar Choice’s assistance to develop a solar farm from 2MW to 150MW, please contact Angus Gemmell on

Top image via FRV.

© 2013 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

James Martin II


    1. Hi Fabian,

      Royalla Solar Farm is now connected to the grid, but at 20MW is no longer the largest in Australia (look up Nyngan & Broken Hill Solar Farms, for example).

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