Massive solar-plus-storage projects move forward in Australia

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From pv magazine Australia.

South Australia, the nation’s traditional renewable energy leader, could welcome two new projects featuring some of Australia’s largest utility-scale solar arrays alongside its largest energy storage facilities.

A new proposal for around 500 MW (AC) of solar PV co-located with 250 MW/1 GWh of battery storage has come from consultants Energy Projects Solar. The project, around 5 km northeast of Robertstown, would be built in stages and probably incorporate synchronous condensers to support security of electricity supply.

The second scheme planned for the same region is the Solar River Project, which received development approval in the middle of last year and is preparing to break ground.

As reported by Adelaide and South Australia newspaper The Advertiser, an “early contractor involvement” deal has been signed with Sydney-based infrastructure company Downer Group, which is already building Australia’s largest solar farm.

Joining the large-scale pipeline

The Solar River Project comprises 200 MW of solar PV generation capacity plus 120 MWh of battery storage, and is likely to add another 200 MW of solar and a further 150 MWh of battery storage in a second stage, provided a proposed high-voltage transmission line to Victoria goes ahead.

The project is notable for being 100% privately funded, with a 60/40 merchant-PPA structure. It is being developed by a company based at the University of Adelaide’s ThincLab accelerator and comes with a price tag of $450 million (US$326 million).

The two projects are among the largest in Australia’s development pipeline, alongside Innogy’s 349 MWp Limondale Solar FarmMaoneng’s 255 MWp Sunraysia Solar Farm in New South Wales and Total Eren’s 256.5 MWp Kiamal Solar Farm, in Victoria.

The energy storage facilities will also be among the nation’s largest, along with the South Australian Tesla big battery (110 MW/129 MWh) at the Hornsdale Power Reserve, and a 120 MW/140 MWh facility proposed by SIMEC Zen Energy, as part of U.K. steel billionaire Sanjeev Gupta’s 1 GW dispatchable renewable energy program for the South Australian industrial town of Whyalla.

The Solar River project is scheduled to begin generation in the final three months of this year. Once approved, the Robertstown project is expected to be completed within six years.