Total Eren has approval for huge battery at 200MW Victoria solar project

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New player in Australian renewables market backed by one of world’s oil majors has big plans for solar and storage.

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A Total Eren solar project in Greece.

Total Eren, the deep-pocketed new player in Australia’s renewable energy sector that is partly owned by one of the world’s oil majors, says it has approval for a huge battery storage installation at its newly announced 200MW solar project in north-west Victoria.

Michael Vawser, the head of Total Eren’s Australian operation, says Mildura council has given development approval for a 100MW/380MWh battery storage facility to be added to the Kiamal solar farm, which is to be built near the town of Ouyen in Victoria.

The 200MW committed to by Total Eren at Kiamal is just the first stage of the solar project, which can be sized up to 350MW.

Vawser said battery storage could be added later, although it is not yet clear how much, if any, of that permitted capacity would be installed or deployed.

Vawser, an Australian renewable energy veteran behind many existing projects while at Wind Prospect, since merged and known as CWP, says Total Eren is likely to be a significant player in Australia.

The company was founded by Paris Mouratoglou, who had previously set up EdF Energie Nouvelles, the renewable energy company now fully owned France’s state-owned utility giant, and David Corchia.

Total, the world’s fourth biggest oil and gas company, came in late last year, investing €237 million ($A364 million) to take a 23 per cent stake. Total, which also owns a majority stake in US solar company SunPower, has an option to take a controlling stake within 5 years.

Other investors include FFP, the holding company of the Peugeot family, the French car-makers.

“They have big ambitions in the renewable energy space, very big ambitions and they want to expand ownership over time,” Vawser says. Indeed, Total has said it wants to be the world’s “responsible” energy major.

Other investors include FFP, the holding company of the Peugeot family, the French car-makers.

Vawser says Total Eren has focused mostly on developing economies in Latin America, Africa and Asia since its creation in 2012, but is attracted to Australia by its solid legal regime, and the abilities of a team put together by Vawser.

“We brought an Australian team to Total Eren, and told them we can do this, if you back us and give us a go,” Vawser says.

Kiamal, which stands to be the biggest solar farm in Victoria, and one of the biggest in Australia when complete, is its first project in Australia, although Vawser says it has more solar and wind projects across Victoria and NSW which he would not identify,

Total Eren this week announced a power purchase agreement with Powershop for an undisclosed share of the output from Kiamal, and Vawser says other deals are in negotiation.

“We are looking at other PPA options as well. Storage is there in the background, and when a compelling proposition is made for us, we will implement it then.”

Vawser says there is a huge amount of interest in Australia from overseas, particularly since the market opened up in the last 18 months after it became clear that the (reduced) renewable energy target would unlikely not be altered again

“The economics of projects here are not as good as in emerging countries …. but that is offset by the stability of this market, the rule of law, and investors are comfortable taking lower returns,” Vawser says.

Powershop says it was “stunned” by the prices offered by solar farm developers when it made a request for proposal, although both parties have declined to reveal the price agreed in the PPA.

“Solar has been coming down in price for a very long time,” Vawser says. “We have built projects in Latin America, and Africa, and we bring to Australia our experience of cost improvements. We have efficiencies internally that we can bring – that is one of our competitive advantages.”

The Kiamal solar farm is expected to begin construction in the second quarter of this year. It will include single axis tracking.

 

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6 Comments
  1. Malcolm M 10 months ago

    How will all this power fit into the transmission line without curtailment ? The Redcliffe-Horsham line has a rating of 301 MW, but will be fed by Kiamal (200 MW solar + battery 100 MW/380 MWh) and Nowingi (250 MW solar + battery 80 MW/160 MWh). Perhaps part of the purpose of the batteries is to store power that would otherwise by curtailed.

    • Robert Johnson 10 months ago

      Plenty of developers don’t understand the network Malcolm. Its not just the line ratings either, its fault levels etc also.

    • Garth Power 9 months ago

      They can send both ways.
      302 MW during 40C and 372 MW for 5C
      If we use 30C as the norm its 323 MW.
      From RCTS you have
      Weemen at 316 MW.
      Over the river into NSW is 265 MW
      SA is ~200 MW.

  2. Ian 9 months ago

    Our energy market is quite small and our renewables resources vast. Anyone not getting a foot in the door soon will have to explore other ways to find a market for their energy production. These people are clever in the sense that they have approval for a large battery, not that they necessarily intend to build one right away, the grid connection, as others have pointed out, may be thin for their generating capacity needs but a large battery on site may help maximise transmission potential. If that’s the case then how much could this project participate in the FCAS or grid storage market?

  3. brucelee 9 months ago

    “is attracted to Australia by its solid legal regime,”

    They are clearly not seeing this governments flakiness

    • neroden 9 months ago

      Well, it’s more legally stable than the US. 🙁

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