New South Wales

NSW Govt aims to encourage small renewable energy systems

SOLAR electricity generation systems, up to one hectare in size, and domestic wind turbines may be able to be approved in 10 days, according to discussion papers released by the NSW Department of Planning this month.

Planning Minister Tony Kelly, said the changes are about allowing home and other property owners to more easily install their own wind and solar power systems. "This has several advantages including being able to turn our existing suburbs and rural areas into renewable energy harvesting areas, with no or minimal environmental and local amenity impacts," Mr Kelly said.

Under the proposed changes for wind turbines:

  • 10-day complying development approvals could be granted for wind turbines mounted on the ground or a building or structure with a generating capacity of up to 10 kW in residential zones, and up to 60 kW in other zones;\
  • If located near neighbouring dwellings, these turbines will need to meet strict operational noise limits;
  • All turbines mounted on a building or structure approved as complying development must not protrude more than three metres above the existing roof line;
  • Small-scale wind turbines less than 25 metres in height, located well-clear of neighbouring dwellings and meeting other guidelines would be allowed without any planning approval in rural areas.

Mr Kelly said that while modern domestic-use wind turbines are generally extremely quiet, they will be required to meet strict noise limits. "Visual impacts will also be closely controlled with both height limits and minimum setbacks imposed. These provisions ensure, in particular, that higher-density urban areas will not end up looking like turbine jungles," Mr Kelly said.

Under the proposed changes for solar systems:

  • 10-day complying development approvals can be granted for ground-mounted solar energy systems no more than 10 metres in height, and occupying an area less than 10,000 sq/m, in rural, industrial and special purpose zones;
  • Boundary setback limits for these types of development and other planning controls apply;
  • Building-mounted solar systems with a generating capacity of less than 20kW which meet other planning provisions can proceed without any planning approval;
  • Ground-mounted systems up to 1,000 sq/m in size which preserve local amenity are allowed without planning approval in rural, industrial and special purpose zones.

Minister for Energy, John Robertson, said the proposed changes showed the NSW Government's commitment towards renewable energy. "The feed-in scheme, which began in January 2010, allows householders to earn 60 cents per kilowatt hour for all the electricity their system produces, equivalent to an average of about $1,500 per household," he said.

The two discussion papers covering solar and wind energy approval systems are being exhibited from Monday 19 April until Friday 28 May 28, and are available from the NSW Department of Planning website <>.

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