Australia’s first large scale solar + storage plant connected to grid

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Australia’s first large-scale solar and big battery storage installation – the Lakeland project near Cooktown in far north Queensland – officially connected to the grid.

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The first large-scale solar and big battery storage installation in Australia – the Lakeland project near Cooktown in far north Queensland – has been officially connected to the grid.

The 10.8MW solar facility, combined with a 1.4MW/5.3MWh battery storage facility is located near the very edge of the grid and when first announced in 2016 was being pitched as a world-first for remote, edge of grid technology, and one that would trigger a host of similar projects across Australia.

The project had been due for completion nearly six months ago under its original timetable, but the complexity of the first-of-its-type project – for the developers, the local grid owner, and the market operator – pushed the timetable back.

It has been feeding into the grid since late November, but only recently completed its full sign off with Ergon, the local network operator, and the Australian Energy Market Operator.

The project was budgeted in 2016 at $42.5 million – which seems expensive now (and possibly explained by cost estimates at the time, the location, and its first-of-its kind status) – and received a $17.4 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

It will be used to “firm up” the supply of solar power into the grid, and also to provide “islanding”, meaning that local homes and businesses can remain connected to the grid even in the case of a major fault elsewhere.

“Lakeland is a demonstration for how integrated solar and batteries can together deliver dispatchable supply feeding electricity into the grid when it is needed, whether or not the sun is available at that moment,” ARENA boss Ivor Frischknecht said in a statement.

“It will also be a test case for deliberate ‘islanding’, where a section of the grid continues to provide power while disconnected from the main grid. This capability will increase the reliability of local supply and pave the way for other fringe of the grid locations.”

Those “other” projects are already occurring. In Western Australia, Carnegie Clean Energy is to build a battery storage installation to perform much the same service for the town of Kalbarri, at the northern edge of the state’s main grid.

In South Australia, a battery is being built on behalf of Electranet and AGL to provide network security and islanding services on the Yorke Peninsula, where it will combine with the Wattle Point wind farm and local rooftop solar.

A bigger solar plus battery storage facility – 44MW of solar and 21MW/26MWh of battery storage – is also planned to go next to Tilt Renewables’ Snowtown wind farm in South Australia.

Meanwhile, the Kennedy energy park, also in Queensland, is building a wind-solar-and-battery storage facility, and numerous other solar and wind projects are looking to include battery storage, or in some cases pumped hydro.

Frischknecht said solar farms combined with storage were going to play a “hugely important role” in Australia’s electricity grid in the future.

Conergy managing director Christopher West said the connection of a project delivering reliable, renewable power to far north Queensland was a milestone for the company.“The region is abundant in solar resource, so it’s an ideal place to deliver solar projects like Lakeland.”

Conergy intends to add another 20MW of solar in stage 2 of the development, to be completed early next year, but will not commit to more storage until the first trials of the Knowledge Sharing Program, which includes ARENA, BHP, AEMO, Ergon and Origin, are completed.

These trials will look at the battery’s performance in islanding, providing FCAS, PV support mode, grid support mode, market mode and various combinations.

“Once completed, Lakeland and Lakeland II will provide 30MW of local solar generation, with storage,” West said in a statement.

“Imagine powering up approximately 4,015 average home air-conditioning units and running them all at the same time for eight hours through the heat of the day.

“That’s the combined production output capacity of Lakeland I and II. And better still, the energy is cleaner and more reliable for the people of Far North Queensland

West said that Having locally based energy generation in remote areas reduced power losses caused by lengthy transmission distances from power stations outside the region, and the impact on network performance from extreme heat in summer made local, dispatchable generation even more important.

Cook Shire Mayor Peter Scott said the  project would improve supply reliability and was cleaner and sustainable.

“Cook Shire is very keen to continue our commitment to green alternative energy solutions and Lakeland I and now II are certainly an expression of that.”

Conergy ultimately aims to deliver one gigawatt of solar and storage for Australia, on the back of its global development of more than 3GW.

Federal environment and energy minister Josh Frydenberg said the battery meant energy generated during the day could be “captured and stored” for use when needed overnight and during peak usage times.

“For the people of Lakeland, who live on the fringe of the electricity grid where transmission is generally less reliable, this project helps ensure the lights stay on, even when the sun isn’t shining,” Frydenberg said.

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23 Comments
  1. Gordon Bossley 9 months ago

    I’m fascinated to know how these farms can become multi use – surely all those panels can be used as shade / shelter for growing / protecting / sheltering / ????

    • handbaskets'r'us 9 months ago

      Could be a lot more creativity in this ‘field’.

      • Dave 9 months ago

        Greenhouse, aquaculture, desal, car-parks…… lots of scope for creativity.

        • My_Oath 9 months ago

          The Chinese have already put a huge solar farm over a lake used for fish farming.

    • Craig Allen 9 months ago

      Actually the developers normally just scrape the vegetation and top soil away before they begin installing.

    • Hettie 9 months ago

      No reason not to use the space as grazing land. If the panels are a metre ot so above grade, quite a lot of light hits the ground. Enough for some fodder crops. Sheep , sheltered to some extent from fierce sun, would do well.

      • solarguy 9 months ago

        I love mine with mint sauce, what about you?

        • Hettie 9 months ago

          Nah. No red meat for me. It plays merry hell with my arthritic hands. But I remember when roast lamb with mint sauce, roast potatoes , pumpkin, parsnip, and a green veg, gravy made from the meat drippings, NO GRAVOX, was a regular family favorite. Not fo 35 years. Don’t even miss it now.a

          • solarguy 9 months ago

            Lucky you, I’ve got the trilogy, Lupus, Rheumatoid and Osteo. Can’t say red meat effects it, as we only eat it 3-4 times a week. What is a problem is salicylates, so I don’t scratch myself to death, must take an antihistamine every day.

            Looking forward to Sunday’s Lamb roast!

          • Hettie 9 months ago

            How miserable for you. Chronic pain is the pits.
            Enjoy the roast.

          • solarguy 9 months ago

            Cheers, I will enjoy it thanks.

    • John Saint-Smith 9 months ago

      Floating solar panels on water storage provide evaporation control, while delivering potential for single axis tracking.

    • Steve_Ohr 9 months ago

      Both sheep grazing and bee habitat work for solar. I’ve also seen solar panels ‘intercropped’ with grapes in China. The panels were set higher up than is typical in that case.

    • Mike Shackleton 9 months ago

      I’ve seen images of solar farms where sheep graze under the panels. The spacing is enough to allow grass to grow and provides shelter to the animals

  2. Kevan Daly 9 months ago

    1.4 MW doesn’t sound like much “firming up” of 10.8 MW.

    • solarguy 9 months ago

      Ah, it’s at the end of the grid, don’t need much!

  3. MaxG 9 months ago

    Hmm, looking at the solar component only, and generating 4 times the panel capacity per day, the payback period is 50 years if the MW is sold for $30.

    • solarguy 9 months ago

      Hello Max, Saying generating 4 x panel capacity are you talking peak sun hours, if so that would be the winter average, summer as much as 7 PSH.

      Don’t think they would sell for just $30/MWh, I’ll take a guess and say around $80=90 in shoulder times and higher in peak.

      • MaxG 9 months ago

        🙂 I deliberately made the simplest coaster calculation for a rough idea.
        I understand that once you ‘work the system’ it results in higher (dollars), thus shorter (time) returns.
        These projects should be community owned and operated; squeezing out the big incumbents one after the other. The whole ‘gaming’ would swiftly be eliminated
        4 x panel size is what the average (safe to assume) output is over the year (all seasons and weather conditions — at least based on the systems I had’have).

        • solarguy 9 months ago

          Understand the safe to assume. Just for your info, can safely assume 5.5 PSH as a yearly average output.

          • MaxG 9 months ago

            OK… this brings it down to 38 point something years 🙂
            Na, all good…

          • solarguy 9 months ago

            Are you considering max summer output over, autumn, over winter and spring. Plus the true selling prices. Keep in mind electricity prices will increase over time.

  4. Mohamed Khalil 9 months ago

    I am interested which business case could be feasible in terms of battery integration with battery storage, as increasing self-consumption using batteries still critical to gain any profits behind. It would be great to show some numbers or figures about this project

Comments are closed.