Work will now begin on the first 60MW of the proposed 1200MW Kennedy Energy Park, after the world-leading wind, solar, and battery storage project in north Queensland received another $94 million from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and an $18 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
The $170 million hybrid renewables project, which is is being developed by Windlab and Eurus Energy, will connect to the local grid, providing electricity to communities from Julia Creek to Charters Towers, more than 500km away – enough to power more than 30,000 average homes each year.
It combines 43.2MW of wind, 15MW of single axis tracking solar PV, and a 4MWh lithium-ion battery storage system supplied by US giant Tesla. Construction is expected to take a little over 12 months, creating 100 jobs during this time, and the project is expected to be fully operational before the end of 2018.
The new round of debt finance from the CEFC, and refundable grant from ARENA, comes just over a month after Windlab secured a landmark 10-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with the Queensland government-owned CS Energy, which will buy both the renewable energy and some of the large-scale generation certificates (LGCs) produced from phase 1 of the Energy Park.
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.
Once built, the project hopes to demonstrate the complementary nature of the three technologies in providing high penetration renewables, with significantly less variability and in a way that more closely matches average network demand.
“We believe Kennedy Energy Park will demonstrate how effectively wind, solar and storage can be combined to provide low cost, reliable and clean energy for Australia’s future”, said Windlab CEO Roger Price in comments on Thursday.
“The broader adoption of projects like Kennedy can address the recommendations of the Finkel review and ensure that Australia can more than meet its Paris Commitments while putting downward pressure on energy prices”.
As noted above, it is the first phase of a potential $2 billion-plus, 1200MW renewable energy precinct planned for North Queensland to exploit the region’s “exceptional” wind resource and “excellent solar irradiation pattern.”
“The second phase of Kennedy, phase II or ‘Big Kennedy’ as we like to call it, is 100% owned by Windlab and will provide up to 1,200MW of wind energy, critical in balancing the large amounts of solar generation that will be connected to the Queensland grid as it moves toward 50% renewable energy capacity,” said Price.
“The fact that wind generation in Queensland is biased towards the late afternoon, evening and night makes it ideal for matching large amounts of solar generation, thereby reducing the need for storage and other peaking capacity across the network. This is why Big Kennedy is a central component of the Queensland Government’s Powering North Queensland Plan.”
Windlab will act as owner’s engineer during construction and will continue to manage Kennedy once operational, through Windlab Asset Management.