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World- first project combines large scale solar and battery storage for peak use

It is extremely encouraging to learn that despite our country’s hostile fossil fuel lobby, somewhere in Australia we can still do world-leading science in the field of renewable energy.

A project in far north Queensland is set to combine big battery storage and big solar to supply solar power after sundown and during peak usage times.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing $17.4 million funding support for Conergy to build and operate a 10.8 MW (AC) solar photovoltaic (PV) plant with 1.4 MW / 5.3 MWh of lithium-ion battery storage near the town of Lakeland.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the landmark project was well placed to work alongside ARENA’s major push to deploy more large-scale PV plants across Australia.

“Figuring out how solar PV and battery storage technologies best work together at a large scale will be crucial for helping more renewables enter our grids,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“We know that battery storage will play a critical role in our future energy systems. The benefit of adding batteries to solar farms is simple; they store energy from the sun for use at peak times and overnight. They can also smooth solar energy output on cloudy days.

“Fringe-of-grid locations face a number of challenges with reliability and outages caused by network constraints, a lack of infrastructure and long distance power lines.

“This project is aiming to be the first in the world to test a concept known as ‘islanding’ from the main electricity grid. The local town of Lakeland will be powered solely by solar and batteries for several hours during these tests.”

The project will be connected to the Ergon Energy network. A detailed battery testing plan will be implemented over the first two years of operations, culminating in testing ‘island mode’ during the evening peak.

Mr Frischknecht said ARENA had worked with Conergy to form a knowledge sharing steering committee, joined by BHP Billiton, Ergon Energy and Origin Energy.

More information other Australian renewable initiatives can be found on the Australian Renewable Energy Agency Website

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