World’s biggest solar + battery storage plant ready to build in SA

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Lyon Group says ready to go on $1bn solar PV and battery storage plant in South Australia, along with another $400m project near Roxby Downs.

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The world’s biggest solar and battery storage plant – and Australia’s biggest solar farm – could begin construction this year, after the project was formally launched in Adelaide on Thursday.

The developer of the $1 billion South Australian project, Lyon Group, said construction of the plant, which will include 330MW of solar PV and a 100MW/400MWh battery storage system, would begin in the coming months, with operations set to commence by the end of 2017.

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“Riverland Solar Storage … will be Australia’s biggest solar farm with 3.4 million solar panels and will also include 1.1 million batteries,” said Lyon partner David Green, at the project launch.

Lyon’s plans to build the record-breaking solar plant in South Australia were first unveiled in September last year, along with plans to build a minimum of 100MW of solar PV paired with 100MWh of battery storage (supplied by AES) near Roxby Downs.

Green said that project, called Kingfisher Solar Storage, was also likely to start construction in 2017, now with 120MW of solar and 200MWh of storage. Both will have battery storage systems larger than any already operating around the world, he said.

lyon solar storage

Green also stressed that both projects would go ahead regardless of the outcome of the South Australian government’s large-scale battery storage tender – although it would influence the projects’ final storage configuration in terms of the balance between optimising grid security and the capture of trading revenue.

Part of this confidence stems from Lyon’s February deal with US investment group Magnetar Capital, in which the Illinois-based company made an investment in Lyon Group to support its development of large-scale solar PV projects in Australia, a pipeline that, all up, includes plans for more than 1.7GW of grid-connected PV and 1GW of battery storage by 2020.

“Our projects are 100% equity financed, technology and other commercial arrangements are in place, network capacity analysis and discussions with network owners are well advanced, and development consultation and approvals have commenced,” Green said.

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Lyon Group was joined at the Thursday announcement by its alliance partners US-based energy giant AES Energy Storage, the world’s leading utility-scale energy storage provider, and its EPC contractor Downer.

“Lyon and its partners have been working with governments, market bodies and utilities over an extended period. We can deliver reliable, flexible power to meet South Australia’s Summer peak,” Green said.

And he gave a nod to the Weatherill government’s “leadership on large-scale battery storage”, which he said had combined with “technology cost reductions and international financial interest to provide a timely solution to some of the challenges in the state’s electricity system.”

“Large-scale renewables and large-scale battery technology will play a central role in keeping our electricity system stable, reducing prices, and reducing emissions,” Green said.

“Right now, South Australia is at the forefront of an irrepressible global energy transition.

“Our team is at site right now, today. Timing is critical and we are moving forward”.

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*David Green from Lyon Solar will be speaking at the Informa Large Scale Solar Conference hosted by RenewEconomy in Sydney next week, April 3-4.

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41 Comments
  1. Andrew Woodroffe 2 years ago

    “. . . and a 100MW/400MWh battery storage system”, now that is how you report storage

    And yet we still refer to 1GW of storage later, is this a typo, should it be 1GWh? or does it refer to the size of the inverters and we just guess the number of hours?

  2. Ray Miller 2 years ago

    180 days to install a significant PV + battery system, impressive. We have quickly moved from reporting MW systems yesterday to 100MW ones today.
    The opportunity as I see it is an upgraded SA-VIC and new SA-NSW interconnector to take advantage of all the SA RE projects.

    • humanitarian solar 2 years ago
      • Kate 2 years ago

        Wonder if we’ll see Turnbull and Co. start banging on about how the Cyclone Debbit hit areas brought it all upon themselves due to their over-reliance on renewables…

      • grantoz 2 years ago

        Must have been the wind farms.

    • Rod 2 years ago

      Clean energy council made that point at a Senate inquiry today and the Australian Energy Council(fossil fools) were against the idea.
      Imagine that. Can’t have this stuff spreading.

    • Gary Rowbottom 2 years ago

      Yeah remarkably quick, hope they can do it. Empirically possible, Adani built the 648 MW PV facility in India (Tamil Nadu) within 12 months, and that project was interrupted by the worst monsoon in 100 years. Seems every day a new power project. Still like to see the CST in Port Augusta, 480 GWh/yr (including the design storage component that requires no additional power to charge, quoting Solar Reserve’s Aurora Project numbers, $650 million, 60% Australian content, and more jobs to build, and more ongoing jobs to maintain/operate. But room for lots of power projects, the interconnectors can take 650 + 220 heading East, and if say the work/projects proposed by the SA Energy Security Working Party are realised, new interconnectors to NSW can enable more power to head to NSW as well. SA = renewable energy Superpower of Australia.

  3. humanitarian solar 2 years ago

    Great leadership. Fast response power with storage. One complete solution. Can be replicated at any level of scale for any community.

    • RobSa 2 years ago

      Its a ripper; coming online so quickly as well. Fantastic news.

      • humanitarian solar 2 years ago

        Should put a cafe or something there. I visit it.

        • Kate 2 years ago

          Along the same vein – I’m all for the project but the one thing that bugs me when I see pics of solar arrays is the waste of land use underneath the solar panels. It always seems so sparse and cleared. If they raised the panels 6-10ft (or whatever) off the ground they could dual purpose the land to also be some sort of green area. The panels would create a perfect opportunity to provide broken relief from the intense summer sun for such an area. Possibly they might have some maintenance/access concerns but I would think good planning would get around any issues. Now a solar panel farm dual purposed as some sort of cafe/park/garden space … definitely I’d visit, or make it a regular pit stop when travelling between locations. Perhaps they could build one at some point along the highway between Pt Augusta & Adelaide? Or alternatively they could just use the space to grow some kind of cash crop. So difficult to grow things in our state’s summer sun without the plants being burned the intense rays. Having a ready canopy of solar panels would seem a wonderful opportunity to utilise.

          • humanitarian solar 2 years ago

            A “cafe/park/garden space” sounds fantastic. There must be landscape or permaculture designers who could address the maintenance/access issue, while creating an understory of plants using the solar panels as a canopy. As solar/storage progresses and becomes more and more integrated with our lifestyle, it makes sense that functionality would be augmented with aesthetic design, to create a beautiful project that people will be attracted to visit and celebrate.

        • Shane White 2 years ago

          You’d drive your electric car there I assume?

    • Shane White 2 years ago

      Yep, all you need are perpetual global financial crises. See my comments above regarding the Magnetar Trade.
      Decarbonising our economy using lies and deceit is not a solution.

      • humanitarian solar 2 years ago

        what specifically are the lies and deceit?

        • Shane White 2 years ago

          THE MAGNETAR TRADE.

          • Shane White 2 years ago

            This video might help?

          • Shane White 2 years ago

            It seems to me Magnetar were petrol for the the GFC fire.

          • Kate 2 years ago

            Shane, I’m sorry to say that you’re coming across as some sort of conspiracy theory wingnut snowflake.

            From what you’ve posted you think bad bad things were done by a financial group/company called Magnetar. This company therefore (in your eyes) taints this solar panel project, and possibly also the SA government.

            ..How?

            Financial groups whether they be ethical or not are always looking for opportunities to invest their (perhaps, maybe, ill-gotten) gains to gain even MORE money. All this suggests is that external companies to Lyon see a successful, profitable future in renewables, or specifically in this case, solar and they want to get in on the action.

            How exactly does the interest of 3rd party investment groups taint this project, or taint the government?

          • Shane White 2 years ago

            Kate I’m simply trying to identify the source of the funds for this project. Isn’t that important? As far as I can tell that source is Magnetar. If you can provide more detail, I’d love to read it.
            As far as I can tell this is Clean energy, Dirty money.
            Is that okay? I don’t think so. Should we turn a blind eye to such goings on? Well we already are at this:
            https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/business/batteries/congo-cobalt-mining-for-lithium-ion-battery/

            Can you please provide more information about the conspiracy you perceive? Do you work for Lyon or the SA government?

          • Kate 2 years ago

            And this is what makes you a special wingnut snowflake Shane. I have absolutely no connection to Magnetar, Lyon, or the SA government. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. And yet you ask the question “do you work for Lyon or the SA government?” which asserts by it’s very phrasing that I must linked to one or the other. I could just as easily ask you: “when will you stop beating your wife?”, with just as much basis for believing you beat your wife that you have for assuming I must have a vested interest in the above-mentioned groups.

            If it’s dirty money, then why isn’t Lyon under investigation? If you believe Magnetar is dirty, then why aren’t you making a complaint to the police?

            Instead, like the special little wingnut snowflake that you are, you haunt internet forums casting aspersions on a good, forward-thinking proposal to build a solar battery.

            Yay you. Your energy is being well invested there.

          • Shane White 2 years ago

            Kate if you had read the article I had linked to earlier, you’d know Magnetar did nothing illegal, hence the omission of any investigation.

            Here’s a summary of the article:
            https://www.propublica.org/awards/item/pulitzer-prize-for-national-affairs-the-wall-street-money-machine/

            Here’s the article:
            https://www.propublica.org/article/all-the-magnetar-trade-how-one-hedge-fund-helped-keep-the-housing-bubble

            Here’s their relevant statement:
            “From what we’ve learned, there was nothing illegal in what Magnetar did; it was playing by the rules in place at the time. And the hedge fund didn’t cause the housing bubble or the financial crisis. But the Magnetar Trade does illustrate the perverse incentives and reckless behavior that characterized the last days of the boom.”

            Here’s the FAQ:
            https://www.propublica.org/getinvolved/item/your-magnetar-questions-answered

            I encourage to you read about Magnetar’s involvement in the GFC, and perhaps to seek counselling for your anger? Little wonder you hide your posts and your surname.
            All the best,
            Shane.

            P.S. Please remember I’m simply trying to identify the source of the money for this infrastructure. The links above about Magnetar are simply my best shot. If anyone can find anything else please post it. I doubt many care though.

          • humanitarian solar 2 years ago

            Good video explaining how the GFC was triggered though I can’t see a link to the topic.

          • Shane White 2 years ago

            This is partly how Magnetar operated, although the article above in my other post explains the credit default swaps used to bet against the failure of the CDOs. Magnetar supplied the money for this solar PV and battery system being installed by Lyon and subcontractors.
            It seems to me this energy system has been funded by the lies and deceit of the GFC. Pity. We can only hope the SA government doesn’t have any financial arrangements with Magnetar (I don’t see any evidence of this or need).

          • humanitarian solar 2 years ago

            Okay I checked back in the article and that this company Magnetar was mentioned in funding the project. Okay, so I get the concern that this company funded investments in the past that may have been somehow involved in loses to the general public. Though in this case, Lyon Solar Storage looks like a legitimate and socially good investment. So even though the money could have come about as a result of others loses? the money is apparently there and doing something good. So it’s off to a better start I guess. It is hard following when I’m not familiar with these fields.

  4. Shane White 2 years ago

    Is this all financed by a hedge fund? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetar_Capital

    Sounds promising but I don’t understand where the money for this originates.

    Then there’s also the source of cobalt if any, and the emissions from the concrete to construct 273,000 foundations.

    But the source of the money is the most important to understand.

    • Dan Neumann 2 years ago

      “Part of this confidence stems from Lyon’s February deal with US investment group Magnetar Capital,
      in which the Illinois-based company made an investment in Lyon Group to
      support its development of large-scale solar PV projects in Australia, a
      pipeline that, all up, includes plans for more than 1.7GW of
      grid-connected PV and 1GW of battery storage by 2020.

      “Our projects are 100% equity financed, technology and other
      commercial arrangements are in place, network capacity analysis and
      discussions with network owners are well advanced, and development
      consultation and approvals have commenced,” Green said.”

      This is the relevant section in regards to the financing information. Combine this with the information in the wiki page (seems a little light on recent information) you provided and we can form an educated guess of what’s happening finance wise.

      This particular hedge fund was heavily involved in CDOs, but seem to have gotten cold feet after they were severely burned during the financial crisis. These are essentially packaged products which involve a large number of small parcels of debt, which are combined into a large single product. The idea is that losses of any individual “parcel” is shared over the entire number involved in the overall product and so will have a minimal impact overall. In this way very poor quality debt can be given the safest possible ratings, but as we have seen in the past things can go very wrong.

      These CDO packets are likely how they financed projects in the past (although probably not renewable pre financial crisis), but is seems they have changed their approach now. The wiki page states they were given an award for inventive new financing approach: “for creating and promoting new ways to invest money—ways that maximize financial gain and minimize financial risk for the world economy, or for a portion thereof.”

      It sounds like they have simply invested a large amount of capital, which is now used to finance these projects directly. That would explain the “investment”: “Part of this confidence stems from Lyon’s February deal with US investment group Magnetar Capital,
      in which the Illinois-based company made an investment in Lyon Group to
      support its development of large-scale solar PV projects in Australia”

      and the 100% equity financing: “Our projects are 100% equity financed”

      Hope this helps to clarify the situation. But in future the simple answer would have been to read the statement that it is “100% equity financed” and that would have already answered your question, all the other info I’ve added are just background info.

    • Shane White 2 years ago

      Still trying to figure out the source of the money for this energy infrastructure roll out. Laughably, this is the best I’ve found so far:

      “Our opportunity set spans the full corporate life cycle, including IPOs and secondary offerings, mergers and acquisitions, spin-offs, recapitalizations, restructurings and bankruptcy. We evaluate and target these opportunities based on their relative attractiveness.”

      https://www.magnetar.com/global-event-driven

      It’s important we don’t prosper at the expense of others. That’s the problem with a coal fired power station isn’t it?

  5. Ian 2 years ago

    $500 to $ 750 per KWH for the storage, and $2100/KW for the solar array. They will probably achieve 300 x5 KWH a year per installed KW installed = 500 000MWH a year LGC=$85/MWH $42.5 million a year in LGC payments alone. Plus a similar quantity from the wholesale electricity price. This would give a 22% return for the solar investment. The battery must be worth the effort, probably for bidding in at premium times.

    Consider this, you would probably want to get a yearly return on the battery investment of 15%. Cost of battery$300million. Revenue required $45million. Dispatchable MWH per year 365 x 400 = 146GWH. So the premium payment they will require is $300/MWH to achieve a 15% return on the batteries. A $14 000/MWH event for 1/2 hr at 100MW could fetch them $700 000. Still, very hard to extract enough value from the battery pack.

    Reposit aims to use home battery systems to bid into the premium dispatch times, so you wonder for how long these premium pricing events will occur as all sorts of battery installations are deployed. Lyon will have to get in quick before the revenue from LGC’s and the high price events dries up.

    • humanitarian solar 2 years ago

      I think Lyon’s design of an integrated system is fundamentally sound and the existing market needs to change to enhance the value streams of the battery. I think the aggregator storage model is BS because it requires unnecessarily complex hardware and software and is likely to be abused by aggregators ripping off households who need their own local storage as a compliment to Lyon Solar Storage projects. An analogy is a computer has it’s own data storage, and there’s online data storage. It’s all complimentary. One doesn’t have to take control of the other. Reposit are like an undercover virus trying to take control of the CPU of peoples inverters or like a misbehaving application on a phone that uses up system resources for it’s own purposes. Why enable a culture where external entities are taking control of local resources. It’s ridiculous and could end up in violations of people’s basic human rights and freedoms.

      • Geoff James 2 years ago

        Hi, I think your assessment is a big harsh. Reposit isn’t undercover, just complex – that’s why there isn’t much competition in their league yet. Their aim is to make as much money with “behind-the-meter” batteries as possible, and share it with the owner to speed up the payback, plus of course grow their own business.

        This works because the value of energy storage is highest behind the meter. But without market data, network data, solar forecasts, and other data a lot of this value (e.g. network services or spot market bids or emergency frequency response) can’t be extracted. Households battery controllers, on their own, can only do local applications like tariff plays and solar self-consumption which give marginal returns at present.

        Oh, and unless you have a megawatt, you can’t participate in market bids anyway – some would say this is a conspiracy to keep the little players out, but actually the market software is written for bids in integer megawatts, so there’s a practical impediment too. You need to aggregate with others to trade. And just like the property market, having a bigger parcel probably gives more bargaining power.

        It’s all done by consent. Reposit (or any other aggregator) can’t just control someone’s battery without asking, that would be illegal and would definitely hurt the industry. They won’t tell you exactly how their software makes decisions, that’s their company’s intellectual property and strategic knowledge, but they’ll certainly tell you what goals it’s trying to achieve.

        Reposit and like-minded businesses are certainly disruptive but I’d say they are advocating on behalf of the consumer, rather than trying to undermine basic human rights. For example, they give small and agile retailers access to a generation resource as a price hedge, where until now only the big gentailers could do that. This will change the dynamics of market power in Australia. Bring it on.

        • humanitarian solar 2 years ago

          The view of a future grid you’ve shared looks at the grid as individual consumers versus how to tackle market power of big traditional gentailers. I think a better designed grid, would have onsite storage nested in for example City Council storage, nested in regional storage, nested in a state grid. The local storage would meet the majority of the needs then each broader context of storage would get accessed less and less, until something like Snowy 2 would only be used when large amounts of people are short on power in winter. In this perspective, the storage has proportionately greater utilisation the more local it is and since your an installer/designer, I can’t imagine you would disagree. So I think people are overestimating these additional value streams of the battery in the market and the value of Reposit as a storage aggregator. The main thing is people need to be responsible and that means practicing having their inverter/charger managing their onsite power. Reposit will likely merely get in the way of personal responsibility and a healthy society.

      • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

        Only the paranoid survive hey, HS?

        • humanitarian solar 2 years ago

          More accepting the reality these companies are based upon self interest and there is no need to begin down a track of using software and hardware to control humanities appliances. There is no electrical reason it’s necessary. Plenty of other options exist.

  6. laid back dude 2 years ago

    Allot of Silver is needed for not just this farm but ALLOT more farms in the future unless they come up with a cheap way too make graphene thats less than current price of silver per ounce. Silver going over $100 USD ?

    • Alastair Leith 2 years ago

      Graphene will march across entire economic landscapes if even 10% of the potential is realised. So many products and raw materials it could disrupt, it’s already used in PV panel electrodes.

      • laid back dude 2 years ago

        I can see graphene being sold on ebay in powder form for cheap yet im hearing its suppose too be over $3000 per ounce.

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