Conergy develops Aussie first grid-connected solar and storage plant

Conergy is developing Australia’s first solar and battery storage plant connected to a major electricity grid in the small town of Lakeland in far north Queensland.

Construction of the $42 million Lakeland Solar and Storage Project will begin next month and consist of a 13MWp/10.8MWac solar power PV ground-mounted array (featuring 41,440 solar panels), with a 1.4MW/5.3MWh Conergy ‘CHESS’ storage solution that, combined, will create a consistent power supply.

It will be constructed on approximately 60ha of land and connected to Ergon Energy’s network, generating and storing enough renewable energy to power more than 3000 local homes.

“This is an exciting opportunity to combine the latest developments in solar technology with utility-scale battery storage to feed consistent, quality power into the existing electricity grid,” Conergy managing director David McCallum said.

Lakeland is connected to the “fringe” of Ergon Energy’s network, with locations away from the central energy generation stations suffering unreliability or maintenance issues.

“We want to demonstrate how this technology can provide an effective and consistent supply to the grid or operate in islanding mode, particularly in fringe-of-grid locations, paving the way for this integrated model to be used more widely around the world,” McCallum said.

He added that a Knowledge Sharing Program (KSP) between Conergy, ARENA, BHP Billiton, Ergon Energy, and Origin Energy has been created to test and demonstrate how the technology performs; hoping to use it more widely in the future.

“This could limit and decrease future demand on traditional generation and transmission infrastructure, thereby reducing the need of expensive network upgrades– particularly in regional communities,” he said.

As more than 35 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions from BHP’s operations come from generating electricity, with the project established to explore technologies to help shift the company into a lower emissions business.

BHP senior manager environment, Dr Graham Winkelman, said, “Beyond contributing to global greenhouse gas emissions reductions, solar and storage projects may also assist BHP Billiton in the future to reduce its own operating emissions while helping to support energy reliability at some of our more remote operations.”

The project is expected to be completed by April next year.

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