Small but “smart” Kanowna solar farm comes on line in northern NSW

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Small but potentially significant solar farm officially opened in NSW that state agriculture minister says is a glimpse of the future for regional areas.

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A small but potentially significant solar farm has been officially launched in northern New South Wales, offering what state agriculture minister Adam Marshall described as a glimpse of the future for rural and remote parts of the state.

The 9MW Kanowna solar farm near Moree has been described by its developers, Meralli Solar, as “cutting edge” for its use of both DC optimisers and DC coupled battery architecture for central inverters.

As Giles Parkinson reported in December 2018, it was believed to be the first solar farm in Australia to embrace both technologies, a move partially driven by network connection hurdles and limitations increasingly facing new solar farms.

The combination means it can get by the restrictions being imposed by network operators, and maximise the output of both the solar farm and the battery storage, which can then be sent to the grid at times of peak demand or in the evening.

“Due to the farm’s isolated location, engineers have pushed the boundaries when it comes to creating new ways to store solar power and connect to the grid,” Minister Marshall said at the project’s opening ceremony last Friday.

“I congratulate Meralli Solar on its drive to try and address some of the fundamental issues facing renewable energy companies in rural areas and it’s great to see these innovations taking place in our region.”

David Mailler, a principal of the company, described Kanowna as “ingeniously simple,” compared to the average “costly and complex” large-scale solar project.

“Meralli was born out of sheer bloody mindedness, but with all our projects being entirely privately funded, we’ve proved the economics work.”

In late 2018, Meralli said the company worked with private equity sourced from individuals “committed to seeing progress on decarbonisation” while achieving a healthy return on investment.

“We’re all about the triple bottom line: economics, social and environment,” he said last week.

The project also uses a “low environmental impact” Belectric PEG frame system that places the almost 28,000 solar panels at less that a metre high, over just under seven hectares.

The Meralli team also makes claims of “unmatched installation times,” putting the “actual construction time” on the Kanowna project at 10 weeks.

Its previous projects include Chillamurra and Dunblane.

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