Renewable energy projects proliferate


Renewable energy projects continue to spring up around the country, with several new projects recently approved or commencing construction.

South Australia

In South Australia, the State Government and Tesla have announced they will roll out a network of 50,000 home solar and battery systems across South Australia, which will form the world’s largest Virtual Power Plant.

Tilt Renewables has announced plans for a new 44MW solar farm consisting of up to 180,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and 21MW/26MWh battery system located on 100ha of cleared farming land next to the existing Snowtown Stage 1 Wind Farm substation.

The Snowtown North Solar Farm and Battery Energy Storage System Project will consist of up to 180,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels.

The $90 million project, which is subject to development approval, is supported by a $7.125 million grant from the South Australian Government’s Renewable Technology Fund.

Tilt Renewables also announced plans for a 300MW, 1350MWh pumped hydro energy storage project to be constructed in the disused Highbury quarry.

The pumped hydro project, which requires development approval, will create about 300 jobs during the two to three year construction period.

The Snowtown enhancement will combine wind energy (with typically an evening peak at this site) and solar energy (with a daytime peak), allowing the two assets to better match daily electricity demands, with the battery reducing the effect of short term variability from the two renewable generation technologies. When complete, the new infrastructure at Snowtown will be part of the biggest co-located wind, solar and battery facility in Australasia.

Also in South Australia, four companies have been awarded state government grants ranging from $500,000 to $4.7 million to conduct feasibility work for pumped hydro power plants near Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Germein.

British industrialist Sanjeev Gupta's GFG Alliance, who recently invested in Whyalla steelworks, will receive $500,000 towards a $1.7 million feasibility study for a pumped hydro plant at a mine site in the Middleback Ranges.

Mr Gupta said the project would look at the engineering and geotechnical challenges along with commercial evaluations of converting the depleted iron ore pit into a pumped hydro plant.

In other projects, the Altura Group secured $4.7 million towards a pumped hydro energy storage facility near Port Augusta.

The 230-megawatt plant would require a total investment of around $410 million to be built.

EnergyAustralia has been awarded $500,000 towards the feasibility of a 225-megawatt facility at Cultana, north of Whyalla .

Rise Renewables will get $3 million for a possible $406 million project northeast of Port Germein to place a pumped hydro plant next to the Baroota Reservoir.

Queensland

In Far North Queensland a new $200 million wind farm proposed by Windlab Limited has been approved, and will involve 30 wind turbines generating around 100 MW of power.

Lakeland Wind Farm, located 8.5 kilometres north-west of the Lakeland township in Cook Shire, will take almost a year to construct and will operate for at least 25 years and generate enough power to supply more than 50,000 homes – similar to the number of households in Cook Shire, Mareeba Shire, Tablelands Region, and northern Cairns suburbs combined.

Meanwhile construction has commenced on Australia’s largest wind farm on Queensland’s Darling Downs, scheduled to be commissioned in 2019. The AGL $850 million, 453 MW Coopers Gap Wind, Farm midway between Kingaroy and Dalby, is in addition to 10 approved solar projects on the Western Downs that together will generate more than 2000 megawatts of renewable energy.

It will produce approximately 1,510,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of renewable energy annually from 123 turbines. Work has already started to connect the wind farm to the grid. Queensland’s high voltage transmission provider Powerlink is building a new 275kV substation at Cooranga North, with commissioned expected by the end of this year.

New South Wales

In New South Wales, 11 large-scale solar energy projects have been approved in the past 12 months. Most recent is the 170-megawatt Finley Solar Project in the Riverina west of Albury, led by ESCO Pacific Pty Ltd., which will comprise around half a million solar panels.

International interest in renewable investments in Australia is growing, with German energy company, Innogy, purchasing two undeveloped solar projects with a combined capacity of more than 460MW at Limondale and Hillston in NSW from local company, Overland Sun Farming. The purchase follows the acquisition by Innogy of international solar and battery storage specialist BELECTRIC, which will be in charge of construction works and take over the operation and maintenance for both solar plants as service provider.

Western Australia

WA's Western Power has awarded a $6.8 million contract to a joint venture between Energy Made Clean (EM) and Lendlease for a renewable energy-powered microgrid project for Kalbarri.

The five-megawatt (MW) microgrid, designed and engineered by Western Power, will draw from a local wind farm and residential solar PVs as well as future renewable generation projects.

A key part of the microgrid design will be a utility-scale 4.5 megawatt hour (MWh) battery with a minimum of 2MWh that is accessible at any time for reliability back-up services. This will supply power to the town when renewable generation sources are not available.

Victoria

Construction of the Mt Gellibrand wind farm is under way, with four turbines complete, 13 are complete to the nacelle, and other towers are going up at a rate of two to three per week.

Developed by ACCIONA Energy, the 132MW facility located 17 kilometres west of Winchelsea, will comprise 44 wind turbines.

Mt Gellibrand is scheduled for commissioning in April, and due to commence operations in mid-2018, generating around 429 gigawatt-hours (GWh) a year.

The project was the first recipient of the first round of tenders, as part of the Victorian Government's Renewable Certificate Purchasing Initiative.

Western Victoria currently has six wind projects underway or proposed in the area.

These include Stockyard Hill, Lal Lal, Moorabool, Dundonnell, Murra Warra, the Bulgana Green Power Hub – Stawell Nectar Farms, as well as the other Renewable Certificate Purchasing Initiative (RCPI) contract, the Kiata Windfarm in Horsham.

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