South Australia is already setting records for the amount of “variable” renewables it has in its electricity system – just over 50 per cent at last count.
This is made up entirely of more than 1800MW of large scale wind farms and more than 800MW of rooftop solar. Now the focus is turning increasingly to large scale solar.
This solar farm above, at Peterborough, not far from the Tesla big battery at the Hornsdale Power Reserve, is just 4.9MW but was connected to the grid this week and has been operating at full capacity.
While small, it is at the vanguard of a shift to large scale solar in the state – long awaited given the excellence of the solar resources.
Another small 6MW solar farm at Whyalla was formally opened by former premier Jay Weatherill in February, but appears to be not yet operating.
But many others are under construction, or planned. These include the 220MW Bungala solar farm, the 127MW Tailem Bend solar farm, a 44MW solar farm at the Snowtown wind complex, and a 150MW solar farm at the proposed renewable hydrogen hub at Crystal Brook.
And, of course, there is some 1GW of large scale solar and storage planned by GFG Alliance to power the Whyalla steelworks, and major projects proposed by DP Energy and Adani Renewables. Not to mention the Aurora solar tower and molten salt storage project near Port Augusta.
The Peterborough solar farm will generate on a “merchant” basis for its owners, The Renew Power Group, but director Kevin Heydt says the company is in discussions with several potential off-takers.
Renew Power has a near term pipeline of some 90MW of solar capacity, both in South Australia and NSW, and Heydt says the company hopes to begin construction on these this year.