Port Augusta 375MW solar and wind energy park approved for development

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DP Energy has been given the green light by SA govt to develop 375MW solar and wind Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park.

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Plans to build a major 375MW hybrid wind and solar plant near Port Augusta in South Australia, near to the site of the closed Northern coal power plant, have won approval from the state government.

Project developer DP Energy said in a statement released late on Friday that the government’s green light meant it could now deliver one of the “largest and most significant” hybrid renewables projects in the Southern Hemisphere, including 59 wind turbines and almost 400 hectares of solar PV arrays.

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As we reported in December last year, the Ireland-based DP Energy first publicly floated plans to build the integrated Renewable Energy Park in September 2014, on a 5,400 hectare site 8km south-east of Port Augusta – a part of Australia renowned for its rich solar and wind resources.

The project is one of a number being proposed for the area around Port Augusta and in the north of the state – including SolarReserve’s 110MW solar tower and molten salt storage project, Lyon Infrastructure’ solar PV and battery storage project, and even some solar farms being contemplated by Indian energy giant Adani Resources.

Following approval from the government, the challenge for the project now is to win financial backing. But it is confident, and is even considering the addition of storage, either in the form of pumped hydro storage or battery storage.

In May, DP Energy presented its plans to the local community via two consultation sessions, and, according to DP Energy managing director Simon de Pietro, won strong local support for the project.

“Overwhelmingly, the response …has been positive, with many people recognising the benefits that will flow into the local community,” de Pietro said in December.

One of those benefits would be a much-needed boost to employment in the region after Alinta Energy walked away from plans to replace the Northern Power Station.

The $680 million project is expected to create 250 jobs over the course of its development, peaking at around 600 jobs, and winding up with the creation of 15-20 ongoing jobs.

DP Energy says it plans to use local SA businesses wherever possible during the development, to maximise the local economic benefits.

Another benefit of the project will be to the local grid; de Pietro says that by integrating different technologies, the Renewable Energy Park will be able to deliver energy when it is most needed, thereby reducing stress on the electricity network in times of peak demand and reducing the reliance on expensive peaking power.

This is because the wind resource – primarily driven by the temperature difference between the land and sea – tends to have a regular early evening peak, which is well aligned with the daily peak demand for electricity.

This effect is also strongest in the summer when temperature differences are at their greatest, meaning that annual energy generation also peaks when it is most needed.

Coupled with large-scale solar generation, which has a midday peak, it offers a good match to overall demand, while supporting the electricity network and placing downward pressure on wholesale prices.

“The Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park represents a new breed of renewable energy generation which will deliver the right power at the right time for energy consumers, and deliver economic benefit to the region and the State,” said De Pietro in a statement on Friday.

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14 Comments
  1. Tomfoolery 3 years ago

    I would like to hear the RenewEconomy community’s opinion on this. Does this kill any chance of Australia adopting a Concentrated Solar Thermal baseload resource in the next five years?

    • Jonathan Prendergast 3 years ago

      It sounds like there are many CST projects being developed in China, but not enough projects being developed or in operation to have the data. The costs come down with deployment, and not enough of it yet.

      As for this project, for the time being it joins many other projects on the list of Shovel Ready but yet to reach financial close.

    • Geoff 3 years ago

      That’s a good question. I don’t think it will as others states such as NSW, QLD and VIC will need higher amounts of electricity generation where CST can certainly help towards this. However the RE industry is seeing some pretty funky new tech coming out and fast so I think that we’ll see many different flavors in the market, which will be customized to peoples needs. Projections from the Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan certainly include CST, 12 in fact, to be part of Australia’s energy mix. So if state governments get their sh1t together then yes, hopefully we will see it take off.

      • Tomfoolery 3 years ago

        I wouldn’t count on NSW building CST any time soon, not with the current breed of Liberals and Nationals in power, anyway. Way too much fossil money pouring into their donations accounts to worry about the planet. It was my view that Port Augusta was Australia’s best chance at seeing CST built in the near term and this project, if it gets finance (i fear) might kill that idea…

  2. Charlie 3 years ago

    Cheering! Only one thing to caution – this significant project should also live up to its promise on boosting local jobs. Whoever funds the project should impose this condition. We do have had a lesson to learn from a major renewable project in another state that technical workers almost were all recruited from overseas.
    A sustainable renewable future relies on the growth of local skilled labour force and local supply chains.

    • Gus Griffin 3 years ago

      Pardon my ignorance, Charlie, but I’m interested to know which project you speak of that recruited principally from overseas. I agree it’s a thing to be avoided and I’d like to know more about who dropped the ball in the case you’re speaking of.

      • Charlie 3 years ago

        Better not to discuss here. I think the lesson has been learnt. I was just trying to make a point that develop renewable project is not just about to meet green targets but more about to develop a sustainable economy. A resourceful local industry and market is the key. Efforts should be made to help with a fledging Australian renewable emery industry in winning big projects not just rooftop pv.

        • Gus Griffin 3 years ago

          All of which is a good reason to make the comment. But as Forrest Gump assures us: stupid is as stupid does. In my experience, people justify and perpetuate their incompetence more often than they learn from it – so I prefer to know who the incompetent are ahead of time. But clearly, you’re going to mollycoddle them and protect their identity, so they can keep on doing a lousy job for others’ too.

          • Charlie 3 years ago

            Let’s not be entangled with that. Renewable in Australia is still in early adoption stage where teething problems are unavoidable. Re jobs and economy, this latest article https://reneweconomy.com.au/2016/renewables-offer-unrivalled-opportunity-to-grow-rural-jobs-economies-81073 echoes my point well.

          • Gus Griffin 3 years ago

            Normally, I’m not one to harp on the negative, but the foundation of accomplishing anything is first of all being able to prevent the wrong thing from being done. Without that, failure is virtually assured. If one knows not only what mistakes were made, but also who made them, then one can determine the actual present situation and so manage the risk. It’s not “entanglement”: it’s risk management 101.

  3. Ian 3 years ago

    Besides using the same power transmission lines for the solar and for the wind sides of the project, what’s the point of co-locating these sources of power generation? The whole electricity grid should be a network of distributed sources of generation, home and business solar, utility scale solar in one area, wind in another . The grid of the future is wide-spread, diverse, and accommodating of intermittent resources no real need to emulate the old coal-based idea of baseload – inflexible, centralised, producing power whether it’s needed or not.

    • Catprog 3 years ago

      Wind and solar together mean that most times one or the other will be generating.

      50MW solar and 50 MW wind in two locations (For a total of 100MW of both) is better then 1 location with 100MW solar and another with 100MW wind

      (This is assuming the solar and wind potential is the same in both locations)

    • Anthrox 3 years ago

      Because of the power station that was there they all ready have a lot of high capacity power lines to reuse

  4. Shannon 3 years ago

    But Tony Abbott said wind turbines were bad for the environment because of noise pollution…

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