European renewable energy giant Total Eren has announced plans to nearly double the size of what will already be Victoria’s largest solar farm, and confirmed that it is still interested in adding up to 380MWh of battery storage.
At the official launch of the Kiamal solar project on Wednesday, Total Eren said the first stage of the solar farm will be 265MW (D), or 200MW (AC), but there are plans to add another 194MW (DC) down the track.
Kiamal, located near Ouyen in the state’s north-west, has had to overcome significant connection issues and has committed – as we reported on Tuesday – to installing a large synchronous condenser to strengthen the local grid and to smooth its connection process with the Australian Energy Market Operator.
Total Eren says that investment – the cost of which it has declined to reveal – should pave the way not just for its own solar farm, but also other large-scale renewable projects in the area, which have been warned by AEMO of significant curtailment issues if the network is not strengthened.
Kiamal is the first solar farm in Australia to install synchronous condensers – a decades old technology that features spinning machinery that does not generate electricity, but which can provide system strength when called upon.
“The Kiamal solar farm is unique in that it has committed to install a more than 100MVAr synchronous condenser as part of the generating system in order to facility a timely connection to the Victorian transmission system,” it said in a statement.
It says this will substantially strengthen the grid and make it possible to connect even more renewables in north west Victoria.
“The successful start of construction of Kiamal solar farm is an important milestone for us as this is not only our first project in Australia but also our largest solar project worldwide,” said Fabienne Demol, the head of business development at Total Eren, a joint venture that includes one of the world’s biggest oil companies.
“Total Eren has an ambitious vision for the development of renewable energy in Australia, and partnering with major industry players ranging from manufacturing, utility and retail is an important lever in our strategy to becoming a significant player in the national renewable energy market.
“It also sends a strong message to the rest of the market that now is the time to capitalise on the opportunities offered by renewables and to drive positive change in the environment.”
Total Eren also announced that Alinta Energy will become the third contracted off-taker of the output of the solar farm, replacing Powershop and joining Flow Power and Mars Australia, which is seeking to match 100 per cent of its electricity demand in Australia with renewables.
Construction of the project, which begins this month, is being jointly led by Biosar Australia, part of Greek infrastructure group Aktor, and Canadian Solar. The site will employ an average 200 workers during construction, and seven for operations once construction is complete mid next year.