Opal capital’s solar-wind-battery hybrid plant lines up finance

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Opal capital’s Coober Pedy wind-solar-battery hybrid plant reaches financial close, to reduce off-grid diesel consumption.

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Coober Pedy, the South Australia outback town dubbed the “opal capital of the world” it set to become the home of one of the most innovative off-grid renewable energy projects in the world after financing for a hybrid wind energy, solar and battery storage power plant was completed.

coober pedy

The Coober Pedy Renewable Diesel Hybrid project will feature 4MW of wind, 1MW of solar and a 1MW/250kWh battery to provide up to 70 per cent of the power needs of Coober Pedy. This will dramatically reduce the amount of diesel consumed from the existing 3.9MW diesel power station.

The project, to be built, owned and operated by Energy Developments, is being supported by an $18.4 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. Without the grant, the project would not go ahead. The Coalition government has announced ARENA will no longer provide grant funding for such projects.

The mix of wind and solar has changed slightly since the project was first announced in June, 2014, when it was envisaged to have 3MW of wind capacity and 2MW of solar capacity. That’s because an in-depth wind resource assessment determined that a higher proportion of wind energy would be more cost effective.

The project is designed to replicate the success of the King Island renewable integration project in proving the ability of renewables and storage to cut off-grid diesel use in differing locations.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said in a statement the Coober Pedy project was a prime example of Australia’s world-leading expertise in devising renewable micro-grid solutions with strong export potential.

“This is a next-generation off-grid project, taking advantage of advanced renewable and enabling technologies that have already been successfully trialled at off-grid locations such as King Island,” Frischknecht said.

“Combining wind, solar, battery storage and smart control systems could provide a blueprint for off-grid communities to access cleaner and cheaper power and achieve energy independence by greatly reducing their reliance on trucked-in diesel.”

The project is also underpinned by a 20 year power purchase agreement with the District Council of Coober Pedy, supported by the South Australian Government.

Construction is due to commence in September 2016 and completion is scheduled for the first quarter of 2018.

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6 Comments
  1. Alan S 4 years ago

    Does anyone know how much energy the 200 kW Nordex wind turbine generates and what contribution this makes to total demand?

    • Geoff James 4 years ago

      That depends on the wind resource where it is located, and on how well the turbine design is matched to the wind resource. For example, turbines may prefer low or high wind speeds. A good site will have a “capacity factor” of 30% or more. I don’t know how good is the wind at Coober Pedy but Energy Developments has certainly measured this to get finance for the project, and the fact that their design has more wind than solar suggests that the wind is pretty good there. Say the capacity factor is 30% – that means a 200 kW turbine will produce, in an average year, 0.3 * 200 * 365 * 24 = 526 MWh of energy. Or 1,440 kWh per day, but the daily output will be highly variable, according to the season and the weather cycle.

      Local demand is presently met by the 3.9 MW diesel power station. They would also have a capacity factor and I don’t know what it is. But we can read at http://www.energydevelopments.com.au/01_cms/details.asp?ID=130 “that 70% of the current diesel fuel consumed at the Coober Pedy power station would be replaced by renewable energy” (including the solar arrays) so that probably answers your question?

      • Alan S 4 years ago

        No Geoff it doesn’t – I know all that stuff thanks. I was asking specifically about the Nordex turbine next to the main road.

  2. Andrew Woodroffe 4 years ago

    Sorry, but why does a system currently running on diesel need any grant money for wind and solar?

    Is it because 4MW of wind and 1 MW of solar is going to be installed instead of 1MW of wind and 4MW of solar?

    ?!

    • juxx0r 4 years ago

      Exactly Andrew. Wind and solar are both cheaper than diesel so why do they need a grant?

      Remote towns in WA have been operating with wind penetrations of up to 95% and averaging 50% without batteries for decades, add your solar on top and there is your 70%.

      This appears to be a low balled cash grab that serves no useful learning purpose.

  3. juxx0r 4 years ago

    Given that most of the town lives underground this will be the largest single installation of rooftop solar in the world.

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