Windlab’s solar-wind-battery project finally connected to Queensland grid

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Windlab’s world-leading solar, wind and battery project at the Kennedy Energy Park in north Queensland has finally been connected to the grid and energised after an eight month delay.

The construction of the Kennedy hub – combining 43MW of wind, 15MW of solar and a 2MW/4MWh Tesla battery – was completed in December but has been held up by the complexity of generation performance standards, one of a number of projects that have had to wait on the sidelines as they sought to negotiate strict new standards.

The combination of wind, solar and a battery makes it the first of its type on a major grid in the world, but Windlab says its issue were complicated by the requirement to add both a statcom (for voltage) and a synchronous condenser (for system strength), the first project to do so in the Ergon network.

Many new wind and solar farms in Australia are now required to install a synchronous condenser to ensure system strength is retained. These have cost an average $25 million (although it is understood that Windlab’s is smaller than most), and has added significantly to project costs.

Windlab also had problems with its EPC contractor, declaring force majeure earlier this year because of the delays in production caused by the connection issues and flooding at the site.

“Nearly all renewable generators in Australia have found grid connection challenging in the past 18 months,” Windlab executive chairman and CEO Roger Price said in a statement.

“Being the first project to implement both a statcom and synchronous condenser in Ergon’s network has meant Kennedy is no exception.

“However, the persistence and technical capability of the (Windlab) team has paid off. We look forward to completing the registration and commissioning work over coming months as the project is placed into full service.”

The Kennedy facility is connected but will not be able to export electricity into the grid until the middle of the month because of a compulsory “hold point zero” period that will allow the network operator to conduct background power quality testing.

The project will then commence commissioning and testing, and progressively exporting electricity to the network through a series of further “hold points”, initially under a 5MW export limit until AEMO registers the project as a generator in September.

Formal commercial operation is expected later in the year.

Kennedy Energy Park is jointly developed and owned by Windlab and Eurus Energy Holdings. It is located near Hughenden in North Queensland. Windlab has previously suggested that project could be transformed into a major 1200MW plant combining the three technologies, but this would require a major grid upgrade for the area.

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