Ambitious plans to combine wind, solar, battery storage and potentially green hydrogen production at a hybrid “24/7” energy generation facility in South Australia have won development approval from the state government.
The Neoen Australia Crystal Brook Energy Park has proposed to install up to 125MW of wind generation, 150MW of solar and a 130MW/400MWh lithium-ion battery storage facility around 23km southeast of Port Pirie and 3km north of the town of the same name in South Australia.
The project also proposes to add up to 50MW of hydrogen production capability (or up to 25,000kg per day) on-site or at Port Pirie, pending the outcome of a state government-backed feasibility study.
In a statement on Tuesday, Neoen said its “next generation” clean energy plans had received the green light from government to proceed to development and help “keep the lights on and cut electricity bills” for the households and businesses.
“With this project, we look forward to building on the success of the Hornsdale Wind Farm and Power Reserve, which since commencing operations in 2017, has helped to stabilise the grid and saved South Australian consumers over $50 million,” said Neoen Australia’s head of development, Garth Heron.
“Changing the role of renewables, from just providing power when available to providing firm power 24-hours a day is essential for long-term sustainability, and this project will the first of its kind to offer that type of power service in Australia.”
Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan said planning approval for Crystal Brook Energy Park was further evidence of the Marshall government’s determination to provide cheaper, cleaner and more reliable electricity for South Australians.
“The combined solar farm, wind farm and grid scale storage project is an exciting step towards getting the mix right in energy generation in South Australia,” the minister said.
“The Marshall government’s energy policies are attracting new investment, creating greater competition and reducing costs to households and businesses.”
It is one of a number of new projects – mostly solar and storage – that have won development approval and have the enthusiastic support of the state Liberal government, which is aiming to reach “net 100 per cent renewables” by 2030, if not earlier, and export excess supply to other states.
Neoen says that the lithium-ion storage facility planned for Crystal Brook, which would be more powerful and have nearly four times the storage capacity of the Hornsdale Tesla “Big Battery”, would help to ensure that the energy park’s output matched the state’s average daily energy load.
“There are a variety of lithium-ion battery storage options available and Neoen will leave this choice open until the very end of the project’s development stage,” the company’s website says.
The $500 million project will also feature “Australia’s tallest” wind turbines – at 240m high – a feature that has generated some opposition from the local community.
As we reported here, Neoen last year cut the number of turbines proposed for the project by more “more than 50 per cent” to a total of 26 in direct response to feedback from the local community and Port Pirie Council.
In comments to the Adelaide Advertiser this week, Heron said the company was determined to work with local residents, most of whom he claimed were in support of the project.
“We’re long-term owners, so we want to establish a really solid foundation between us and the local community,” Heron told the paper.
“We have to earn the respect of the community and the only way we will achieve that is by having open and honest conversations with them, which we’ve been doing.”
Neoen’s negotiation and community engagement skills will also be put to the test with the company’s Victorian plans to build a massive 900MW wind and battery storage project, proposed to span 30km in a pine plantation in the state’s far west.
That plan, which was put to surrounding communities and local governments in April, is in a race with OSMI Australia to become the first Australian wind farm to be built within a plantation.
As for Crystal Brook, Neoen says it hopes to start construction in the second half of 2020, with creating around 250 direct jobs and 400 associated jobs. Once completed, the energy park will create around 10 full time jobs.