Construction of Conergy’s $42.5 million Lakeland Solar and Storage Project in far north Queensland has passed the half-way mark, on track for an April completion date.
Located on 23ha of land off the Mulligan Highway at Lakeland, the project is the first integrated solar, storage and fringe-of-grid project of its scale, and will demonstrate grid-to-islanding functionality.
Conergy managing director David McCallum said the final commissioning and connection of Lakeland Solar and Storage Project was expected to follow soon after construction was completed.
“Utility-scale solar and storage, combined with effective management software, is the Holy Grail of the global renewable energy industry, and with this project we are well within reach of it,” he said.
“This landmark project combines the latest developments in solar technology with utility-scale battery storage to feed consistent, quality power into the existing electricity grid.
“The Lakeland Solar and Storage Project is a pioneering development exploring a new breed of power station. It’s the beginning of a new way of thinking about how we generate, distribute and use power.”
The project consists 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.
When commissioned, it will produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of more than 3000 homes, and will connect to Ergon Energy’s existing substation – one of the most remote National Electricity Market (NEM) connected substations in Australia.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has provided $17.4 million in funding support. A Knowledge Sharing Program (KSP) had been established between Conergy, ARENA, BHP Billiton, Ergon Energy and Origin Energy.
Construction has involved up to 50 people working onsite. Materials and equipment, including piles and solar panels, are being transported in more than 115 containers by ship and rail to Townsville, and then another 570km by road to the site.
“We’ve made good progress and all the mounting structures have been installed, along with the associated cables. That’s about 11,000 piles that have been placed along a grid marked out by GPS,” Mr McCallum said.
“The mounting of the panels is well under way and by February about two-thirds of these will have been installed.”
Once it is up and running, the project’s automated control system will be operated from Conergy’s Asia Pacific regional office in Singapore via satellite broadband.
Conergy said a team of local contractors would manage preventative and corrective maintenance, including landscaping and ensuring the panels were kept clean.
Up to 10 people will be involved in the ongoing operation of the project during its expected lifespan of more than 20 years.
With Australia’s rich solar resources, Mr McCallum said there was an immense opportunity for the widespread use of utility-scale batteries to store surplus power from excess solar generation for use during cloud cover, night-time and peak times.
“Along with our knowledge-share partners, we’ll be closely testing and demonstrating how the integrated technology performs, with the view that this model could be used more widely in the future,” he said.
“We want to demonstrate how this technology can provide an effective and reliable 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.”