Flinders Island to go 60% renewable with portable storage system

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Hydro Tas to trial home-grown portable hybrid renewable energy system combining wind, solar and storage to cut Flinders Island’s diesel habit by 60%.

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Another Bass Strait island is set to begin the shift to renewables, with Hydro Tasmania confirming it would soon start developing a “hybrid energy hub” combining wind, solar and storage on Flinders Island – an off-grid community 54 kilometres off Tasmania’s north east coast.

Hydro Tasmania, which has had great success with a similar project on the nearby King Island, says the Flinders Island project – which, as of today, is backed by ARENA to the tune of $5.5 million – aims to use a range of technologies to supply the majority of its energy needs with renewables within two years.

Not unlike the above-mentioned King Island Renewable Energy Integratiuon Project, the $12.88 million Flinders Island project will combine solar, wind and battery storage to cut its costly diesel fuel habit – in this case, by upwards of 60 per cent.

This will involve the integration of wind and solar generation with the existing diesel power station, as well as the installation of enabling technology, such as flywheel and battery energy storage, in a new form designed to drive down the cost of these systems.

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Conceptual diagram of Flinders Island Hybrid Energy Hub, showing extensions to existing power station. Source: Hydro Tasmania

 

But unlike KIREIP, the Flinders project will trial the use of modular units to house and ship the key technologies – an exciting, Tasmanian-made innovation that is being developed and tested for the first time through the Hybrid Energy Hub.

Hydro Tasmania hopes the modular units – developed in conjunction with local Tasmanian manufacturers – will provide a low-cost and scalable solution for rapid transport and installation of renewables; one that could also be used for such applications as disaster relief, or for powering the mining industry.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht described the development of the portable hybrid energy solution as one of the project’s most exciting aspects, with its potential to drive down costs and deliver a commercially competitive product.

“This low-cost, scalable approach has the potential to be a real game changer in remote areas – reducing the amount of construction and engineering work needed to be carried out on site would significantly reduce costs, risks and construction time,” Frischknecht said in a statement accompanying Wednesday’s funding announcement.

“Technologies like storage and dynamic resistors smooth out the power generated from solar and wind, while the automated control systems ensure generation and enabling equipment are coordinated and perform when required.

“Australia is a large country with many off-grid communities and industries facing similar energy supply challenges, whether they are on islands or in remote locations on the mainland.”

Hydro Tasmania has already seen one such opportunity in Energy Developments Limited’s Coober Pedy project, incorporating wind, solar and enablers, which aims to achieve a 70 per cent reduction in diesel fuel used for power supply to the township of Coober Pedy.

The company has been assisting EDL with the development phase of this project which would make use of the Tasmanian designed and manufactured modular enabling units if it proceeds to implementation.

“This knowledge sharing will ensure we are best placed to advance competitive, reliable renewable energy options for off-grid Australia and help reduce its reliance on trucked and shipped in diesel,” said Frischknecht.

The Flinders Island project is scheduled for completion in November 2016.

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9 Comments
  1. sean 4 years ago

    It is rather disappointing that they have chosen storage, not interconnection with Tasmania and Victoria, increasing the amount of energy that could be sold to Victoria.

    • Geoff James 4 years ago

      The interconnection option didn’t work out for King Island, which I believe has a better wind resource than Flinders, and so was probably not considered seriously. Note also that the King Island interconnection would have been only that – exporting wind to Victoria but not connecting to the Tasmanian grid. There is potential for a second Basslink (possibly via either island) in the future as Tasmanian wind capacity grows and becomes export-limited.

  2. john 4 years ago

    I wonder what the expected price of the power will be?
    Somewhere in the 12-15c KwH perhaps

    • Charles 4 years ago

      As far as I know, retail power costs on King and Flinders Islands are locked to the same as mainland Tasmania – any additional cost in generation are subsidised by Hydro. I don’t think it should change with this new system. (I can only assume it would save Hydro money otherwise they wouldn’t be doing it!)

      • john 4 years ago

        Using diesel gen the cost of power is in the 50c KwH range so going RE where the cost of production over a long time line should be below 20c then it is reasonable to say that the buying price for a consumer will be the same but it will result in a good saving for Hydro.

  3. Michael 4 years ago

    What do they mean by portable? Haven’t people been making containerized battery solutions for years now? Are they going to move it to another site later or do they really just mean its prefabricated like most things these days.

    • Geoff James 4 years ago

      Yes batteries at this scale are usually containerised and include power conversion systems (AC/DC converters). Control of batteries in a hybrid power system (i.e. both diesel and renewable generation with batteries and resistor banks for balancing) is still an emerging field so making a packaged “balancing” solution like this is a great idea. I’ve heard that China is helping to provide Indonesian islands with renewable or hybrid power systems. Actually Australia is a world leader in hybrid power systems so we should take opportunities like this very seriously. Beats selling coal and gas, right?

      • Michael 4 years ago

        Thanks Geoff, so there really is no ‘portable’ breakthrough then, which the headline suggests. Its just a prefabricated package that makes it easy for them to deliver and reduce construction time on site, which is the norm these days. The article suggests that the system would move from place to place, I didn’t think Flinders Island was going anywhere in the near future.

  4. Raahul Kumar 4 years ago

    This is an excellent move by Tasmania, but the problem states and the bulk of the population remain in Victoria, NSW and Queensland. Unfortunately, a drop in the bucket.

    If the New Labour Government in QLD does what it promised, that will be the start of a new era in Australia.

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