Construction has been completed at the first stage of the Kennedy Energy Park – the world’s first on-grid facility that combines wind, solar and battery storage.
Developer Windlab confirmed the milestone on Twitter this week, and via text messages when RenewEconomy sought confirmation. The facility will finalise its connections and testing early in the New Year, the company said.
The Kennedy facility, located near Hughenden in the far north of Queensland, boasts 40MW of wind energy, 20MW of solar and a 2MW/4MWh Tesla battery – the third Tesla battery to be installed adjacent to a renewable energy facility in Australia, following the Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia and the Gannawarra solar farm in Victoria.
The first turbine at the Kennedy facility was erected in August, prompting turbine manufacturer Vestas to hail the “revolutionary” nature of the project.
If all goes well, and depending on grid capacity and other factors, Windlab has said it could grow the project to 1.2GW under its “Big Kennedy” plans, something CEO Roger Price has said could deliver the equivalent of “base-load” renewables to the north Queensland region.
This, however, will depend on new grid infrastructure to cope with the new generation facilities. The Queensland government has voiced its support for a 500km transmission line in the north of the state to unlock barriers to more than 2000MW of large-scale wind, solar and hydro projects in the region.
This week, the state government also announced $4.7 million of funding to advance the old Copperstring project. It is not clear if this relates to the infrastructure needed around Townsville to link Kennedy and other big projects, or the revival of the old plan to link Mt Isa and Cloncurry with the eastern seaboard and a host of renewable resources in its path.
That original idea was dumped because Xstrata, the owner of the Mt Isa mining operation, opted instead for a new gas plant for Mt Isa, which proved to be such a bad idea – because of the soaring price of gas – that the operations have been threatened with closure.
Local member Bob Katter is an enthusiastic supporter of Copperstring 2.0, which would link the Kennedy Energy Park near Hughenden with Mt Isa, citing the $200/MWh that miners and other big energy users are being slugged with at the moment.