Macquarie University
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Implementing Ecovoltaics Regulation: Combining Ecological Regeneration with Large-scale Solar Energy in New South Wales

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posted on 2024-04-17, 04:31 authored by Nischala McDonnell

The renewable energy transition necessitates legal change to establish an equilibrium between energy, social, and ecological land use values. Tension exists between net zero emissions targets ensuring renewable energy developments effectively manage ecological values to enable ecosystem flourishing. This balance requires a fundamental shift from reflecting the underlying prioritisation of landscape commodification to the detriment of ecological regeneration. Significant regulatory gaps exist in the existing large-scale solar regulatory regime in New South Wales (‘NSW’) Australia where biodiversity degradation is not actively considered. In the same vein, the exclusion of local communities in proximity to development and their social values in large-scale solar projects assessments and consent determination(s) is often absent in NSW. This thesis seeks to address the key research question of whether ecovoltaics, which combines large-scale solar production with ecological regeneration, could be a solution in providing synergistic multi-functional land use for the benefit of energy, social, and ecological values. The emerging nature of ecovoltaics technology is captured in its absent legal definition and lack of regulatory enforcement within NSW. This thesis aims to define ecovoltaics and indicate opportunities to implement ecovoltaics into large-scale solar regulation in NSW. In doing so, this thesis contends ecovoltaics correlates with rural environmental justice. In applying rural environmental justice, this thesis proposes to create a new ‘responsible renewable energy framework’ which is applied to critically examine the strengths and weaknesses of large-scale solar regulation in NSW and the UK. Specifically, this thesis investigates whether rural environmental justice principles are embedded in the environmental impact assessment procedures of large-scale solar developments in NSW and the UK. This functional comparative analysis intends to unveil opportunities to create ecovoltaics regulation and the importance of delivering responsible renewable energy for human and nonhuman stakeholders.


Table of Contents

Chapter I. Introduction -- Chapter II. Correlation of Ecovoltaics and Rural Environmental Justice Principles -- Chapter III. Large-Scale Solar Regulation in New South Wales -- Chapter IV. A Comparative Functional Analysis of Large-Scale Solar Regulation in the United Kingdom and New South Wales -- Chapter V. Embedding Ecovoltaics in NSW Large-Scale Solar Energy Framework: Opportunities for Reform -- Chapter VI. Conclusion -- Bibliography

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


Master of Research

Department, Centre or School

Macquarie Law School

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Madeline Taylor

Additional Supervisor 1

Cathy Sherry


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New South Wales Australia


142 pages

Former Identifiers

AMIS ID: 339066

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