Originally published on RenewEconomy
by Sophie Vorrath
The world’s biggest solar and battery storage plant – and Australia’s biggest solar farm – could begin construction this year, after the project was formally launched in Adelaide on Thursday.
The developer of the $1 billion South Australian project, Lyon Group, said construction of the plant, which will include 330MW of solar PV and a 100MW/400MWh battery storage system, would begin in the coming months, with operations set to commence by the end of 2017.
“Riverland Solar Storage … will be Australia’s biggest solar farm with 3.4 million solar panels and will also include 1.1 million batteries,” said Lyon partner David Green, at the project launch.
Lyon’s plans to build the record-breaking solar plant in South Australia were first unveiled in September last year, along with plans to build a minimum of 100MW of solar PV paired with 100MWh of battery storage (supplied by AES) near Roxby Downs.
Green said that project, called Kingfisher Solar Storage, was also likely to start construction in 2017, now with 120MW of solar and 200MWh of storage. Both will have battery storage systems larger than any already operating around the world, he said.
Green also stressed that both projects would go ahead regardless of the outcome of the South Australian government’s large-scale battery storage tender – although it would influence the projects’ final storage configuration in terms of the balance between optimising grid security and the capture of trading revenue.
Part of this confidence stems from Lyon’s February deal with US investment group Magnetar Capital, in which the Illinois-based company made an investment in Lyon Group to support its development of large-scale solar PV projects in Australia, a pipeline that, all up, includes plans for more than 1.7GW of grid-connected PV and 1GW of battery storage by 2020.
“Our projects are 100% equity financed, technology and other commercial arrangements are in place, network capacity analysis and discussions with network owners are well advanced, and development consultation and approvals have commenced,” Green said.
Lyon Group was joined at the Thursday announcement by its alliance partners US-based energy giant AES Energy Storage, the world’s leading utility-scale energy storage provider, and its EPC contractor Downer.
“Lyon and its partners have been working with governments, market bodies and utilities over an extended period. We can deliver reliable, flexible power to meet South Australia’s Summer peak,” Green said.
And he gave a nod to the Weatherill government’s “leadership on large-scale battery storage”, which he said had combined with “technology cost reductions and international financial interest to provide a timely solution to some of the challenges in the state’s electricity system.”
“Large-scale renewables and large-scale battery technology will play a central role in keeping our electricity system stable, reducing prices, and reducing emissions,” Green said.
“Right now, South Australia is at the forefront of an irrepressible global energy transition.
“Our team is at site right now, today. Timing is critical and we are moving forward”.
*David Green from Lyon Solar will be speaking at the Informa Large Scale Solar Conference hosted by RenewEconomy in Sydney next week, April 3-4.
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