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Australia’s first solar farm co-located with wind park begins production

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Gullen Solar Farm

The Gullen Range solar farm – the first in Australia to be co-located with a wind farm – has begun generation into the grid.

The 10MW solar farm is adjacent to the 165MW Gullen Range wind farm, and both are owned by New Gullen Range Wind Farm, a company owned 25 per cent by Chinese renewable energy giant Goldwind and 75 per cent by  Beijing Jingneng Clean Energy.

Gullen Range is one of a number of co-located wind and solar projects that are being built in order to share infrastructure such as roads, power lines and telecommunications, and so lower costs, and also because of the way their output can complement the other.

Goldwind is also building the 20MW White Rock solar farm near Glen Innes in northern NSW, next to the White Rock wind farm, while Windlab is also planning to build a 60MW project comprising both wind and solar – and battery storage – at the Kennedy project in north Queensland.

That project could expand to 1,200MW, providing what its developers describe as “baseload” renewables for the region. CWP is also planning a large solar farm with battery storage to partner the Sapphire wind farm that is also being built in northern NSW.

DP Energy is looking to a solar-wind hybrid at its Port Augusta renewable energy park in South Australia, and APA is building a solar farm at Emu Downs to co-exist with the existing wind farm of the same name.

GullenRange

Gullen solar first produced in late August, and has been putting into the grid on a regular basis since around mid-September. This graph above, courtesy of the Climate and Energy College in Melbourne, shows the combined output of the solar and wind farms in the past week.

The Gullen Range solar farm attracted a $10 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, even thought its projected costs  – $2.6 million a megawatt – were well above the average of $2.16 million/MW from the projects that made its short-list for the recent large scale solar tender.

However, ARENA explained at the time that they were keen to see a co-located wind and solar farm, and estimated that there were 1,000MW of solar projects that could be co-located.

“Co-location provides more continuous energy generation, as wind farms tend to generate more energy overnight whilst solar only generates during the day. Gullen Wind Farm generates more power in winter and the new solar farm will generate more in summer,” ARENA boss Ivor Frischknecht said at the time.

“Wind farm owners across Australia could benefit from adding solar plants to their existing sites. Developers can save money on grid connection, approvals and site development costs by co-locating wind and solar plants, whilst also reducing environmental impacts.

Gullen Range was built by the Decmil Balance joint venture.

Note: The Gullen Range Wind Farm and Gullen Solar Farm are conducting Wind and Solar Farm Tours. The first tour will take place on Tuesday, 24th October at 11.30am.

It says The tours are a great opportunity for the community to visit Australia’s first hybrid wind and solar farm, which is located along SERREE‘s (South East Region of Renewable Energy Excellence) Renewable Energy Trail. For more information and to book a tour, click here.  

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  • George Darroch

    Apart from reduced connection costs, what’s the attraction of co-location?

    • Andy Saunders

      I was wondering too. Perhaps sharing of maintenance/operator costs.

    • Cooma Doug

      There is a major advantage to common location for several reasons, some that most folk have yet to think about. You mention the connection costs and that is big.
      Also, these energy sources are very predictable, both sun and wind energy. When combined with battery storage and using market and weather variables, the most optimum returns can be increased due to this co ordination. It will improve the contractural opportunity with load side technologies.

      When wind and solar plant suffer forced outages, unlike coal and gas etc, they still generate and it is usually a small loss of output. The combination of these two plants, the load and technical management plus maintenance can be hugely more efficient because of the combined location.

      The effective and optimum utilisation of land space is also greatly improved. You can only put so many turbines in a location but you can add solar to the same space. When the market rules are adjusted for 21st century, the design of these sites will have more reward.

  • And current (from yesterday) Gullen Range Solar Farm (#GULLRSF1) & Windfarm (#GULLRWF1) Output from .. http://nemlog.com.au/graph/unit/GULLRSF1/ and http://nemlog.com.au/graph/unit/GULLRWF1/

  • SomethingSomethingSomething

    Watch all the naysayers jump up and down, frothing at the mouth, and pointing out with glee at the output on the morning of 3 Oct…looks like no production 🙁 Hence why storage is so important.

  • Andrew Thaler

    I’m sure nobody will believe me, but I first proposed a superior version of this idea about 6 years ago.. co-locate the solar PV (says 300kW) with each wind turbine and share the wind turbines transformer which creates a great matching between the times it is windy and conversely when it is sunny.

    Still waiting for it to be built though…

  • Gary E Hiland

    Giles, interesting article. The solar output profile in the graphic indicates considerable clipping. What is the inverter load ratio for this project? Who makes the inverter? What led to the decision to go that high with the ILR? Any thought of eventually recapturing the clipped output with storage? How about a follow- up article fleshing out these details? I’m really interested.