ARENA announces funding for world first project to combine big PV solar and battery storage

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ARENA announces funding for world first project to combine big PV solar and battery storage

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing A$17.4 million (US$13.25 million) funding support for Conergy to build and operate a 10.8 MW (AC) solar photovoltaic (PV) plant with 1.4 MW / 5.3 MWh of lithium-ion battery storage in the Lakeland region of North Queensland, Australia.

The project involves the construction of a large-scale solar plant with battery storage near the town of Lakeland. The integration of big solar and battery storage has the potential to revolutionise power supply for fringe-of-grid locations.

The project will be connected to the Ergon Energy network. A detailed battery testing plan will be implemented over the first two years of operations, culminating in testing ‘island mode’ during the evening peak.

The A$42.5 million (US$32.4 million) project is scheduled for completion in April 2017.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the landmark project was well placed to work alongside ARENA’s major push to deploy more large-scale solar PV plants across Australia. Mr Frischknecht said

“Figuring out how solar PV and battery storage technologies best work together at a large scale will be crucial for helping more renewables enter our grids. We know that battery storage will play a critical role in our future energy systems. The benefit of adding batteries to solar farms is simple; they store energy from the sun for use at peak times and overnight. They can also smooth solar energy output on cloudy days.

“Fringe-of-grid locations face a number of challenges with reliability and outages caused by network constraints, a lack of infrastructure and long distance power lines. This project is aiming to be the first in the world to test a concept known as ‘islanding’ from the main electricity grid. The local town of Lakeland will be powered solely by solar and batteries for several hours during these tests.”

Mr Frischknecht said ARENA had worked with Conergy to form a knowledge sharing steering committee, joined by BHP Billiton, Ergon Energy and Origin Energy. 

BHP Billiton Senior Manager Environment Dr Graham Winkelman said beyond contributing to global greenhouse gas emissions reductions, solar and storage projects may also assist BHP Billiton in the future to reduce its own operating emissions while helping to support energy reliability at some of our more remote operations.

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