Why this CQ location is suddenly a solar farm hot spot
A PERFECT storm of conditions and a streamlined application process is playing out in an influx of solar farm applications on the Central Highlands.
Three applications have been approved by the local council's planning department with three more under assessment.
One dating back to 2015 is almost ready for construction and based on further inquiries, there could me more on the cards.
Central Highlands Region mayor, Kerry Hayes says the applications highlight the region's readiness for investment and innovation.
"We're seeing both national and international companies with branches here in Australia applying," Cr Hayes said.
"This is a testimony to how open our region is to alternative energy proposals and the diversification of economic opportunities."
Attracting solar farm investors is all about location, location, location and Cr Hayes says his region has it all.
"We are located at a perfect distance from the equator, meaning we have longer daylight hours and a high occurrence of fine weather," he said.
"We are also out of the cyclone impact zones and while our weather is hot a lot of the time, we still have periods of lower temperatures that allow a cool layer of air to pass over the panels."
Applications for renewable energy facilities are code assessable with no infrastructure charges under the new Central Highlands Regional Council Planning Scheme.
It allows for a simpler, faster and more predictable process and Cr Hayes says it's designed to encourage innovative ventures and to build national confidence in the region.
Interest is spread across the Central Highlands from Emerald to Tieri, Blackwater, Bluff, Dingo and Rolleston.
Cr Hayes says not only are they non-invasive to quality agricultural land, causing no noise, odour or air quality issues but they also have a limited life cycle and the land is returned to pre-development standards once the solar farm is decommissioned.
'Solar farms also produce less glare than a body of water,' he said.
'So the risks are minimal, but the potential benefits to our region in terms of capital, employment and environment are huge.'
The total area of proposed solar farms in the region, both approved and under assessment, is almost 2000 hectares and over 800MW production.