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Carnegie Clean Energy to build 10MW solar farm in WA

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Carnegie Clean Energy’s plans to build large-scale solar and battery storage plants around Australia has kicked off, with news the company is developing a 10MW solar farm in Northam, in its home state of Western Australia.

The large-scale solar project marks the first of the joint venture between Carnegie’s wholly owned subsidiary Energy Made Clean and Australian property group Lendlease, after a deal was forged between the two companies in December last year.

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The main focus of the partnership, the companies said at the time, was to identify, pursue, bid for, secure and deliver EPC contracts for solar and/or battery energy storage systems (BESS) around Australia.

This, they said, would give both companies access to a broader range of “blue-chip” microgird clients, including network providers, utilities, large-scale residential developments and defence.

As we reported in December, both companies already have considerable skin in the microgrid game, including together, on the community-level battery storage pilot kicked off last year in the northern suburbs of Perth .

That sustainable community development at Alkimos Beach combines 1.1MWh of lithium-ion battery storage with more than 100 rooftop solar homes, and is testing different electricity tariff options and retail models.

The new partnership will work to the two companies’ strengths – including Lendlease’s national footprint across Australia, as well as its experience in the construction and maintenance of power distribution and generation assets.

EMC, which was fully acquired by Carnegie last October, has rapidly become one of Australia’s biggest names in renewable microgrid design and development, having built itself up from an innovative start up to delivering major contracts to local utilities (it is also working with WA’s Synergy for the Alkimos project).

The Northam solar plant, which will be ”strategically located” 100km east of Perth, will produce around 24,000MWh of electricity a year, delivering it to the WA grid when it is needed most, during the day.Northam_location_map_in_Western_Australia

The system has also been designed to be battery storage ready, with an eye to adding it in the future as the costs of energy storage continue to decline.

The project, which is expected to commence operation by the end of 2017, has so far been 100 per cent privately funded, and Carnegie says it will own and operate the solar power station for at least the next 25 years, selling the power under contract through a power purchase agreement or on a merchant basis into the electricity market.

“This is the next step in the evolution of Carnegie Clean Energy,” the company’s managing director and CEO Michael Ottaviano said in comments on Monday.

“The Tier 1 capabilities of the EMC Lendlease joint venture, combined with the design, development and financing capabilities of Carnegie, provide us with a clear point of difference in the rapidly emerging utility solar market in Australia.

“Carnegie is planning on replicating this approach across Australia,” Ottaviano added.

“The ability to add utility scale battery storage is a new product offering we will integrate into our own solar farms and also to other developers of utility scale solar farms as the technology costs continue to decline in the coming years.”

The project is expected to cost between $15 and $20 million. Carnegie is currently in discussions with third party providers of both equity and debt and has a range of funding options to take the project through to completion, including shared ownership models. It is also subject to council planning approval and network connection approval from Western Power.

Construction for the project is expected to start in mid-2017, creating around 40 jobs during this phase of development, with project commissioning expected by the end of 2017.  

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  • George Darroch

    Is this CCE’s biggest project so far? This looks like a very sensible way of scaling up.

  • solarguy

    Sounds like a good business model to me.

  • humanitarian solar

    Sounds like fantastic timing to add resilience to our grid/s. When we have so little distributed storage around our sparsely populated country, every little bit counts. It would also be fantastic to explore new models of ownership by regional communities like local city councils. Remote and fringe of grid communities may be especially interested.