FRV Australia’s Winton Solar Farm grants power up youth training, community sustainability
February 6, 2022
Organisers of a ‘Hands on Trades Day’ for North East Victoria will proceed with plans to promote career pathways for students and build a skilled, innovative and local workforce in the region thanks to a Community Grant from the Winton Solar Farm.
This annual event aims to support high school students from Benalla, Mansfield and Wangaratta Shires to consider existing and new trades – including solar engineering and management, an industry that has seen recent growth with several new solar farms in the area. Local students completing Structured Workplace Learning placements form part of the event organising committee and hospitality teams and are involved in co-designing the event.
NE Tracks Chief Executive Officer, Danny O’Donoghue, said: “The solar farm grant would allow more locals school kids to get involved in the event. On behalf of local schools, and especially students in North East Victoria we are delighted to receive this grant from Winton Solar Farm. It will help more students have access to a better resourced careers day and help them to develop the skills they need”.
This year’s Hands on Trades career expo will go ahead on Thursday 5 May. Local students are encouraged to register to attend.
Four other community groups were recently awarded a share of the Solar Farm’s second annual $35,000 Community Grant Program.
Winners of this year’s Winton Community Grants and funded projects are:
- Benalla Hockey Club to fund new portable shade gazebos for tournaments.
- Winton Primary School – development of a new sustainable outdoor kitchen garden.
- Benalla Sustainable Future Group – to install new solar panels at Bernard Briggs Pre-school.
- NE Tracks for their ACRE youth entrepreneurship program and annual secondary school student ‘Hands On Trades Day’ careers event.
- Glenrowan Primary School – to upgrade their school cooking learning classroom.
FRV Australia Managing Director, Carlo Frigerio, said “I am thrilled to see another round of strong applications and initiatives come through the Community Grants Fund. The Winton, Benalla and surrounding areas are home to some creative thinkers, and we are excited to see another round of innovative projects come through. These community grants are an opportunity to kick start some exciting projects and deliver meaningful investment for the local community”.
Output from the 85MW Winton Solar Farm to date has been impressive. It is expected to generate around 210,000 MWh/Year – enough clean energy for 52,000 homes.
In a further development, Winton Solar Farm has also reached mutual agreement with a project neighbour to introduce sheep to the solar site. Just under 600 are currently grazing the site, helping to maintain grass levels around the solar farm and avoiding use of mechanical and chemical weed management.
Near neighbour, Tony Mort, stated: “It’s great to be a part of Winton Solar Farm’s thinking as to how the land can be utilized for more than just power generation”.
“It’s early days and both the solar farm and I are on a learning curve but I’m wrapt they have chosen to work with neighbours as I believe this is a win-win situation,” he said.
To date, Winton Solar Farm has provided $120,000 to the local community. This includes a major partnership with the Regent Honeyeater Project to plant an additional eleven hectares of native vegetation and improve critical biodiversity corridors in the region.
Community Grants will be open for applications again in late 2022.