In a shock turn of events, it turns out you can’t please all of the people all of the time. The new solar plant to be built near Royalla, just south of Tuggeranong, and technically in New South Wales, has been declared an eyesore and a monstrosity by residents, who claim they have not been consulted on the proposals.
Last week saw the opening of Australia’s first large scale solar plant at Greenough River in Western Australia, size 10MW. Additionally last Wednesday saw the ACT government announce that a 20MW plant was to built in Royalla by Spanish company Fotowatio Renewable Ventures. Hooray, cried almost everyone. At last serial polluter Australia is finally seeing the light (pun most definitely intended) and is doing something about renewable energy – a couple of small steps maybe, but its a start. Unfortunately, those who were excited about the proposals may have momentarily forgot that balance has to be restored in the universe by those folks who like a good moan. And the residents of Royalla are providing this “balance”.
The residents of Royalla of course, have the right of protest. Luckily that same right of free speech allows me to call them annoying and NIMBYist and tell them to stop being so stupid.
This visual eyesore will stand at a whopping 2m tall. The total coverage of the site will be 50 hectares, which makes this arrival of “big solar” pretty small by “big solar” standards. The 83,000 solar panels will provide 20MW of power, enough to supply 4400 homes in Canberra. The cost will be picked up by the whole of Canberra, amounting to about a $13 increase in electricity bills per year.
The facility will be low-rise, generate no noise and no pollution. The impact has been described as “almost non-existent” by Fotowatio Renewable Ventures National Manager Andrea Fontana.
But this is too much. It will cause irrevocable damage to the valley, its flora and fauna. The glare from the solar panels will be unbearable. The view of this almost pristine (well, apart from the highway and all the houses) valley will be ruined.
And tragedy upon tragedy, the electricity will be being generated in New South Wales but used in the ACT! Perhaps the residents in Royalla would like to forgo the use of Canberra’s shops and hospitals since we’re dividing things so strictly across state lines.
Apparently the last thing these residents want to do is wake up to the view of these panels, thereby ranking this hideous torture above being forced to club baby seals.
Some of this may be true. But this is the state we live in. We created this mess, and unfortunately, things that are going to clear it up are not going to be to everybody’s liking.
They do make one good point. Perhaps things like this should go in industrial areas, on roof-tops and the like. But this is an expensive proposition and you can bet your life that there would be even more moaning from people about the cost of subsidising such electricity generation if the plant were to cost double or treble the amount.
Simply put, Australia has vast amounts of open space, the most commercially viable places for solar plants being close to major cities on major transport routes, just like Royalla. Places that are often littered with small communities. Someone will object, someone will always object. But in terms of cost, impact on the local and global environment, this has to be a no-brainer.