Following months of connection delays, renewables developer Windlab has announced that its landmark energy hub in the Australian state of Queensland has been connected to the grid. The Kennedy Energy Hub is first major grid-scale project in Australia to combine wind, solar and storage.
Construction of the Kennedy hub — combining 43 MW of wind, 15 MW of solar and a 2MW/4MWh Tesla battery — was completed in December. The project has been sitting idle since then due to delays in completing its generator performance standards and subsequent registration as a generator. The Australian Energy Market Operators’ complex, extended connection rules have delayed a number of renewable energy projects across the market.
In case of the Kennedy Energy Hub, the developer had to add a statcom for voltage regulation and a synchronous condenser for system strength, making it the first project to do so in the Ergon Energy network. While the installation of additional components has added to total project costs, Windlab also experienced problems with its EPC contractor and inclement weather, as post-cyclone flooding prevented access to the site by network commissioning crews.
“Nearly all renewable generators in Australia have found grid connection challenging in the past 18 months,” Windlab CEO Roger Price said. “Being the first project to implement both a statcom and synchronous condenser in Ergon’s network has meant Kennedy is no exception. However, the persistence and technical capability of the [Windlab] team has paid off.”
Over the coming months, the developer hopes to complete the registration and commissioning work. Generation is expected to start in mid-August, after a compulsory “hold point zero” period that will allow the network operator to conduct background power quality testing. The project will then proceed with commissioning and testing, and will progressively export electricity to the network through a series of further “hold points,” initially under a 5 MW export limit, until AEMO registers the project as a generator in September.
The Kennedy Energy Park was jointly developed by project owners Windlab and Eurus Energy, a Japanese developer. Located near Hughenden in northern Queensland, the project has a 10-year PPA with Queensland state-owned generator CS Energy. Initially, Windlab revealed plans to expand the Kennedy hub to 1.2 GW, but this was later deprioritized due to uncertainty around connection solutions.