Construction has begun on the first 60MW of a proposed 1200MW Kennedy Energy Park, with the ceremonial turning of the sod on Monday at the site of the world-leading wind, solar, and battery storage project in north Queensland.
The $160 million first stage of the grid-connected hybrid renewables project, which is being developed by Windlab and Japan’s Eurus Energy, will initially combine 43.2MW of wind, 15MW of single axis tracking solar PV, and a 2MW/4MWh lithium-ion battery storage system supplied by US giant Tesla.
The first phase of the project is expected to be completed and feeding energy into the grid by late 2018, with Queensland government owned CS Energy contracted to purchase the renewable electricity under a 10-year power purchase agreement.
The second phase of the overall project, dubbed Big Kennedy, is expected to provide up to 1,200MW of wind energy and is expected to play a key role in balancing Queensland’s rapidly growing big solar capacity.
Commencement of construction of phase one follows a new round of debt finance from the CEFC ($94 million) in October, alongside an $18 million refundable grant from ARENA.
Windlab – which is a Canberra-based CSIRO spin-off – also managed to raise $50 million through a highly successful initial public offer in August. The now ASX-listed company floated 25 million shares at $2 each, the proceeds of which were divided between existing investors, and phase one of the Kennedy project.
“This is an industry first that will produce and feed clean renewable energy into the grid with much greater consistency and reliability from a combination of solar, wind and battery storage,” said Windlab CEO Roger Price in a statement on Monday.
“It’s also an important and valuable demonstration of how renewable energy can be used to cost effectively meet most network demand for power – day and night.
Price said he expected that the sort of hybrid configuration being modelled by Kennedy would be increasingly used, particularly in remote locations and emerging markets, as the world shifted to a clean energy future.
“We are excited about the opportunities that the expertise gained from this pioneering project will present as we seek to replicate it across selected locations in Australia and Southern Africa,” he said.
Price said the Hughenden site had an excellent solar irradiation pattern and exceptional complementary wind resources, which tended to blow at night.
He said the pairing of wind and solar resources would be vital to the achievement of Queensland’s state government target of 50% renewable energy by 2030.
“This is the first stage of what is likely to become a multibillion-dollar investment program in and around Hughenden as this region becomes Australia’s leading renewable energy location with the completion of Queensland’s Clean Energy Hub, with “Big Kennedy” at its centre,” Price said.
CS Energy chairman Jim Soorley said the start of construction marked a great day for the region, and reinforced its reputation as the renewable energy capital of of the state.
“CS Energy is proud of its role in Kennedy Energy Park through a long-term agreement to purchase the electricity output and a proportion of the large scale generation certificates from the planned hybrid generation facility,” he said.
“The agreement supports the CS Energy strategy to facilitate renewable energy development in Queensland while continuing to provide reliable baseload electricity through its existing portfolio of power stations.