Conergy to build large-scale solar-plus-battery project in Australia

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The plant has garnered the interest of Melbourne-headquartered mining firm BHP Billiton, which is the largest mining firm in the world. Credit: Clean Energy Council

Conergy plans to build a 10.8MWac solar PV plant combined with 1.4MW/5.3MWh of lithium-ion battery storage near Lakeland, Australia.

The plant has garnered the interest of Melbourne-headquartered mining firm BHP Billiton, which is the largest mining firm in the world, as it considers solar-plus-storage applications for its own remote operations through a knowledge sharing steering committee. Similarly, Ergon Energy is looking to avoid network upgrade costs in Queensland through the technology combination.

The Conergy plant will provide energy for more than 3,000 homes and will create 60 jobs during construction. Origin Energy is buying the power form the plant.

The AU$42.5 million project is scheduled for completion in April 2017 and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing AU$17.4 million funding.

ARENA chief executive Ivor 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.

“Our growing expertise in integrating renewables and batteries could readily translate into economic opportunities including export dollars in world markets.”

Frischknecht said solar-plus-storage is particularly beneficial on the fringe of electricity grids, which can suffer from outages due to network constraints, lack of infrastructure and long distance power lines.

He also said that the project will be a world-first in testing out the concept of ‘islanding’ from the main grid, where the town of Lakeland will be solely powered by solar and batteries for several hours.

A detailed battery testing plan will be implemented over the first two years of operations, culminating in testing ‘island mode’ during the evening peak.

Conergy managing director David McCallum said utility-scale storage and solar with effective management software is the “Holy Grail” of the global renewable energy industry.

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