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DP Energy trumps Gupta with 1.1GW of wind, solar and storage

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Irish company DP Energy has announced a major expansion of its Port Augusta hybrid renewable energy park in South Australia, adding in another 300MW of solar and 400MW of battery storage to its plans for what was already going to be the biggest hybrid plant in Australia.

Barely a week after Sanjeev Gupta announced a 1GW project to use solar, pumped hydro and battery storage, and demand management to supply the Whyalla steelworks and other major energy users, DP Energy has gone one step further.

It has signed up Downer Group and Vestas as its preferred contractors for the previously canvassed 375MW first phase, which will combine 225MW of wind and 150MW of solar near Port Augusta.

But it has also flagged plans to add a further 300MW of solar PV and 400MW of battery storage (it has yet to configure the actual MWh of storage) in a phase two project “across the road”.

That will make a total of 1,075MW, and it may also include 3,000 megawatt-seconds of synchronous condensors to ensure the market operator has enough “synchronous” capacity for its needs.

The two mega projects join a series of other projects at the top end of the Spencer Gulf, including the 220MW Bungala solar project, the 212MW Lincoln Gap wind project and the 150MW Aurora solar tower and storage project that will effectively double the amount of wind and solar capacity already in the state.

Other projects, such as the 100MW Tailem Bend solar project are also under construction or about to be built. Together, these projects effectively double the amount of renewables in the state, which is already accounting for nearly 50 per cent of its local generation.

The difference with these mega projects is that they are coming with storage attached, and at least two other pumped hydro projects and two battery storage facilities are also being built (Tesla big battery and Wattle Point).

DP Energy admitted that the project was not yet contracted, nor had it reached financial close. But its intent was clear with the appointment of Downer.

“This project will happen,” development manager Catherine Way told RenewEconomy. “When the facility is fully complete the end result has the potential to be a game changer for energy production and provision in Australia.”

DP energy demand

DP Energy says a big attraction of their first stage hybrid project was its ability to provide a significant amount of power in the early evening, at the time of peak demand.

“The wind farm will be producing at maximum strength at the peak of local electricity demand. This will be further complemented by high levels of solar power generation. Matching supply with demand ensures maximum efficiency and reliability.

“By combining the wind energy which ramps up during the day to the evening peak with solar energy which peaks in the middle of the day, the combined generation profile closely matches South Australia’s demand profile,” the company says.

It is one of a number of wind-solar hybrids being built, including the White Rock and Gullen Range projects in NSW and the Kennedy project in Queensland, although the Kennedy wind, solar and storage project may beat it in size eventually with around 1.2GW.

Way says that once the second stage is completed and the storage is added, the wind and solar farms will act just like a fossil fuel facility, although with more flexibility, minimal emissions and at a cheaper price.

She would not comment on how the proposed National Energy Guarantee might encourage or discourage the project, but said the price of renewable energy was falling and any energy policy needs to recognise this and be “forward looking”.

Fears have been raised about the possibility that the NEG may be designed to limit the amount of renewables that could be added to the grid, and about its modeling, which assumes prices for wind and solar  that are significantly higher than actual prices.

Way said the development application for the second stage would be filed soon. Like the second stage of the Whyalla steel proposal, which seeks to add 480MW of solar, it will likely depend on developments in the next couple of years.

dp energy map

“Up until now we’ve been focussed on proving the viability of the concept. The appointment of our preferred key contractors, Vestas and Downer, represents a significant milestone in the progression,” DP Energy CEO Simon De Pietro said in a statement.

De Pietro said the company had also secured the support of a lead infrastructure investor, although the company declined to name the party. It expects to begin construction in the second quarter of 2018.

For the first stage, Vestas will supply 59 3.6MW turbines, Downer will be responsible for the solar and Vestas will be responsible for the control system to integrate the wind and solar technologies.

The project will use the Davenport sub-station, which was the connection point for the now closed 540MW Northern brown coal power station.  

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  • trackdaze

    South Australia will be exporting more clean and cheap energy to Eastern states it seems.

  • GregS

    South Australia is an exciting place to be in the renewable world. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

    • Carl Raymond S

      I wonder if Jay Weatherill critics have had a change of heart. He looks to be the tallest in the room right now. Xenophon is after his job. I hope South Australians recognise they are on a winning trajectory and hold course. I’ve not heard Xenophon express any love for RE. He’s thinking to capitalise on dissatisfaction stemming from the storm outage last summer, which *we* know was not the fault of RE.

      • Joe

        Premier Jay and Labor need to publicise more the report into the Tornado outage. Too many people swallow The COALition’s line that it was all to do with SA’s RE, even Coalers and Gassers can’t transmit when 23 pylons and all manner of wiring gets torn down.

        • John Saint-Smith

          I think it would be interesting to find out what percentage of people in S.A. and the rest of the country believe the great LNP lie. I’m constantly dealing with the myth now widely accepted by ordinary voters as a result of the very successful misinformation campaign, aided and abetted, of course, by the lemmings and flop-eared rabbits in the MSM, who have given up journalism in favour of slavish repetition of the ‘meme’.

          • Mike Shackleton

            I saw an article published in the Australian today about the demolition of the Alinta coal fired boilers. They made a comment about SA currently enjoying the lowest spot prices in the country but attributed it to gas plants, not the record amounts of wind and solar that are being pumped into the grid at the moment.

          • John Saint-Smith

            If you’re going to tell a lie, its best not to economize on size. The Australian still commands the ‘paid’ attention of many otherwise intelligent people.

          • Joe

            Yeah, you gotta luv The Rupert and his The Australian newsrag, NOT. Never ever is there a good word written in favour of RE. Even now as the Sun and Wind deliver the benefits….its all due to Gas!

      • mick

        i think mr x voted with the libs to privatise etsa also sat on the wind enquiry and is on record saying he has no problems with coal

        • Mike Shackleton

          Coal is dead in South Australia. Even if the LNP get elected next year all these projects in the pipeline aren’t going to make way for a new coal fired plant, even if someone wanted to build one. The LNP would have to actively legislate against existing renewables projects.

          What I’m interested to know is, all this capacity, what is SA going to do with it? As it stands they are regularly saturating the interconnects to Victoria and enjoying the lowest spot prices in the country. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the next step being some new high tech manufacturing establishing in the state. Tesla 3 or Y factory in the old Holden plant anyone? New battery factories? Just the knowledge and expertise that is being accumulated right now and could be exported to the rest of the world in consultancy services will be immense!

    • Joe

      ‘Innovative and Agile’…dare I say, using the words of Two Tongues Turnbull.

  • solarguy

    Wonderful, full steam ahead.

    • Miles Harding

      Hopefully no steam involved and very little expensive gas.

      SA is going to overtake Tasmania in the zero carbon energy stakes.

      • solarguy

        Well of course it’s just a saying Miles, but there will be steam from Aurora’s CST plant. Powered free from the sun!

    • Joe

      …not steam from Coalers or Gassers I trust

      • solarguy

        My God, not you too. Miles asked the same thing. Have faith in the Solarguy man, it’s all cool. Steam from CST, nothing else will do.

        • Joe

          That’s my …Steaming Hot Solarguy!

    • John Saint-Smith

      Love your choice of metaphor.

      • solarguy

        Almost as good as sex isn’t it. LOL

    • neroden

      I think “Full power on” would be a better analogy

  • Alan S

    Heard Richard Turner of ZEN plus six others at the UniSA Low Carbon Living forum last night. Inspiring stuff including developments in thermal storage, cooling systems, hydrogen, flywheel storage and future prospects for the SA grid.

  • Ian

    Global forefront of innovation and employment in renewable energy. Awsome news.

  • bedlambay

    Will the LNP mad right try to crimp renewables like Abbott did.

    • solarguy

      Naturally!

  • Gary Rowbottom

    You beauty! DP’s second stage was actually announced a while ago, they have reconfigured it a little now. Bring on the storage. It will be excellent to see the first stage get under way (in 2018 it seems now). Port Augusta’s time to shine is here, and I say “You little Ripper!”

    • Leslie Nicholson

      Gary it is somewhat ironic, the boilers at northern get blown to bits the same time this is happens. going by my maths over 1500MW of generation and storage are in the pipeline for the port augusta area, not counting what ever comes online for the steel works in whyalla. another shining light in the area is sun drop farms. good to see the area moving forward

  • grantoz

    Agility and innovation, none of it coming from the coalition party room.

  • Ron Horgan

    Great to see what clean disruption looks like in SA .
    The croaking of fossil fuel frogs in the swamp is simply irrevelant.
    SA and the ACT lead Australia out of the smoke filled backrooms where lumps of coal are passed as prizes between “mates”.

  • Jan Veselý

    Cool. Next step should be “electrify everything” in South Australia. And the next step should be to make a huge boomin’ Power2Liquids industry and export the “liquid sunshine” to push the oil fuels out of the market.

  • Jon

    Let’s not get too excited…..its only the announcement of a contractor, not a commitment to the project yet.