One of the world’s largest downstream solar companies, Conergy, has started construction on what will likely be a world first ‘islanding’ solar and storage project in Australia’s north.
The $42.5 million project is set to be developed in Lakeland, in far north Queensland, and will be the Southern Hemisphere’s first integrated solar, storage, and fringe-of-grid project of this size and scale — and will aim to be a world first demonstration of grid-to-islanding.
[Update: Islanding is essentially when a “fringe” portion of the grid is cut off from the grid but then continues to function as a self-enclosed microgrid. (Presumably, this most often occurs temporarily.) For example, a community may lose power from the grid but then be able to keep electricity flowing via solar panels, batteries, wind turbines, etc. Of course, the proper technology needs to be in place to allow both connection to the grid and self-reliant electricity generation and transmission.]
“Utility-scale solar and storage, combined with effective management software, is the Holy Grail of the global renewable energy industry, and with this project we are well within reach of it,” said Conergy Managing Director David McCallum. “This is an exciting opportunity to combine the latest developments in solar technology with utility-scale battery storage to feed consistent, quality power into the existing electricity grid.”
Further, because of the project’s intention to demonstrate grid-to-islanding, Conergy has established a Knowledge Sharing Project with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARNEA), BHP Billiton, Ergon Energy, and Origin Energy.
“Along with our knowledge-share partners, we’ll be closely testing and demonstrating how the integrated technology performs, with the view that this model could be used more widely in the future,” McCallum continued.
“We want to demonstrate how this technology can provide an effective and consistent supply to the grid or operate in islanding mode, particularly in fringe-of-grid locations, paving the way for this integrated model to be used more widely around the world.”
ARENA is providing $17.4 million in funding support for the 10.8 MW project, with its 1.4 MW/5.3 MWh lithium-ion battery storage set up.
“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,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht.
“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.
“This plant will generate and store enough renewable energy to power more than 3000 homes and create up to 60 jobs in the Lakeland region during construction.
“The global energy transition is happening faster than many anticipated and Australia is well placed to be a key player. Our growing expertise in integrating renewables and batteries could readily translate into economic opportunities including export dollars in world markets.”