World’s biggest solar + storage projects planned for Australia

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Australian group plans a 100MW solar project with up to 40MW of battery storage at the edge of the grid in South Australia, plus other projects.

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Australian infrastructure investor Lyon Group says it plans to build the world’s biggest solar plus storage project in South Australia in the next two years, and sees a huge future for combined solar and battery storage plants..

Lyon Group’s David Green – which worked on developing a soon-to-be built 30MW solar plant and 1.4MW/5.3MWh lithium battery storage facility near Cooktown, in far north Queensland, before selling it to German-based company Conergy – plans a series of other projects and claims a pipeline of more than 300MW of solar and up to 60MW of battery storage.

lyon solar storage

The first new project is planned for South Australia, with a 100MW solar PV plant to be combined with a battery storage array of up to 40MW, Green says the plant could be in operation near Roxby Downs by early 2018, and there are plans for other similar projects around the country.

The first stage of what is known as the Kingfisher project – 20MW of solar PV plus a minimum 2MW battery storage  – is expected to be running late next year.

The project is one of the finalists in the Australian Renewable Energy Agency funding round for large scale solar, which is expected to allocate monies to 10 or more projects when decisions are announced next month.

Green says the company – which has previously invested in coal, gas and wind projects, but is now specialising in solar and storage – is looking to be a global industry leader in solar plus storage.

“The genie is out of the bottle. There will be a burst of activity now in large scale solar + battery projects. This is the real battery storage story coming out of Australia – batteries used to convert large scale solar to effectively baseload, or peaking plant.”

The combination of solar and storage means the facilities can compete on two levels – providing clean energy and dispatchable power, either to household or large energy users, and also re-enforcing the edge the grid, in some cases avoiding the costs of grid upgrades.

“The battery component of these projects provides greater energy security and energy quality, load shifting and management of ramp rates which is critical for major energy users with large swing loads,” Green says.

“So our pipeline initially focuses on regional, high energy use areas on the fringe of the electricity grid but is rapidly expanding into other areas.”

Lyon says that battery storage costs are falling fast – the cost of storage had fallen 60 per cent in the last two years as the company put together the Cooktown project, and further falls are expected, particularly in grid level storage.

Because of this, the combination of solar and storage is now becoming competitive with the wider grid, particularly when network benefits are taken into account. He says corporate interest is keen, although many are wary about the risks of new technology.

“Investor pressures and economics are lining up and Lyon is working with a number of large resource companies with fringe of grid operations and large loads,” he says.

“The economics of the projects is enhanced as the combination of large scale battery with the solar plant allows for higher value capture from shifting power output from the solar plant to higher price periods in the market.”

The Kingfisher project is one of a number of large scale solar projects being proposed for South Australia, particularly since the closure of the Northern brown coal power station. Several, including a 110MW solar tower power plant, will offer storage, a growing need in a state now sourcing nearly half of its electricity from wind and solar.

The idea for Kingfisher is to connect into the NEM at Roxby Downs, into  a line that links with working mine sites, including Olympic Dam.

Green says the South Australian market is attractive because of its excellent solar resources, its high “base load” power prices, and it could also avoid costly upgrades of networks at the fringe of grid.

“South Australia needs an answer to its renewable energy challenges and we think our Kingfisher project is a big part of the energy solution for that state.”

Green says providing reliable electricity to these areas has traditionally meant massive investment in extremely long network lines which is costly and also inefficient because of the huge energy loss and loss of energy quality you get transporting electricity across those distances.

Green says one of the biggest challenges to the technology is to overcome perceived risks.

“There is a lot of negative comment about renewables connected to the grid. What we looking to do with these projects is to demonstrate that some of those comments being made are not valid. We want to demonstrate that those perceived risks are not risks. They are readily mitigated and should be an impediment to deployment at all.”

 

 

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16 Comments
  1. trackdaze 3 years ago

    Yes indeed the genie is out of the bottle.

    Expect the boltz, jonzes, murdocz et al to be frothing at the mouth in one last ditched pitch for um, humanity* Yes humanity* thats right all this bottled sun can’t be good for……humanity*

    *humanity to the far right may = megadonors, various fossil fuel co, ye old world generators, transmission companies…,..,

  2. James Fisher 3 years ago

    Hi Giles. Now that storage is going to be a regular discussion point can we get the nomenclature right? 40MW of storage is meaningless. Storage size should be described in MWh and ideally the projected annual MWh’s delivered to the grid and expected life of the batteries. Some battery technologies can be discharged fully every day and still get a long life while others are typically only discharged 40% of rated capacity when a ten year life is required.

    • Giles 3 years ago

      40MW is not meaningless. California, for intance, and i don’t know how many times i have had to say this, describes its storage target in MW rather than MWh. The MWh is decided by the nature of the battery or storage chosen. So Lyon aim for 40MW capacity, and we’ll know the MWh when the storage technology is chosen.

      • James Fisher 3 years ago

        I agree that 40MW describes peak output but if you don’t include the MWh as well then you have no clue as to the size of the storage array. You could provide a 40MW output for 10 minutes from a very small battery array. There may be times when this is valuable to the network so it is not a nonsense case. If your plan is to provide storage for 4 hours the array would need to be 24 times the size. So if you want to provide size information then MWh has to be included. You did this at the start of the article when describing Lyon’s first plant with 1.3MW/5.4MWh.

        • Chris B 3 years ago

          The biggest market for battery storage is frequency regulation and spinning reserve. In this context the energy capacity is irrelevant. 5 minutes is plenty.

          The other use of a small battery is to provide a ride through capability during intermittant cloud. Not dropping tens of MW at a seconds notice makes solar farms much more valuable to customers.

      • Garth Power 3 years ago

        I read that as the system has a meaningless storage capacity and is only built for peak discharge unless its stated in Jules or per time period. Unless that the way you want to perceive it.

      • Elardus Mare 3 years ago

        40MW may not be meaningless but without the MWh being described it leaves a lot to be desired. Batteries surely are all about storage capacity in the first place, with their power output being a secondary consideration. The reason one sees so many MW-quotes in the mainstream is due to clueless reporters and politicians.

  3. solarguy 3 years ago

    Hello Mike Baird, we in NSW could do with this old mate. And while your at it a big 220MW solar CST plant here in the Hunter Valley, wouldn’t go astray either. Oh and wind turbines, plenty of wind turbines, big f?*k off ones.
    Hello Mike… Mike ……

    • Analitik 3 years ago

      Speaking of CST and the Hunter Valley, has anyone ever done a proper evaluation of the CST plant already deployed for “solar boosting” at the Liddell power station?

      • solarguy 3 years ago

        Yes, CSIRO

  4. Ben De Boo 3 years ago

    Stupid question and all, but will PMB batteries be in the mix to supply the batteries. If they can build large scale batteries for submarines they should be able to supply a power station. And yes before you say it, it’s old lead acid technology, but it works and it’s a local industry. Who knows they might be able to use the batteries out the sub instead of scrapping them after a few years because of a slight risk of failing in a war game.

  5. FeFiFoFum 3 years ago

    Have to agree with Giles.
    The battery is the equivalent of a generator as far as the network is concerned.

    Generators are described by their MW output, not their MWh capacity.
    So a 20MW generator operating for 24 hrs @ 20MW produces 480MWh which is nice to know, but it is a 20MW generator first.

    Yes it is important to know the MWh capacity of the battery but the MW size is also important.

    The advantage of a battery over traditional generators is that the reserve it provides is available almost instantly (static reserve) which may be the case with spinning reserve of traditional generators, but much faster than having to start up additional generators in the event more generation is needed.

    The question I have with regards to batteries, is if they are used for this purpose ( static reserve) and are cycled a number of times during the day,, will this effect the life of the batteries ?

    • JonathanMaddox 3 years ago

      Yes, number of cycles affects working lifetime. Indeed “cycle lifetime” is a common measurement for battery technologies.

  6. Elardus Mare 3 years ago

    I agree fully with James Fisher. Whereas solar, wind and fossil generation plants only provide power and therefore can simply be specified in terms of their wattage, battery plants provide both power and storage with storage being the more important component. Batteries therefore need to be specified in terms of at least their energy capacity (Wh) though preferably in both.

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