Flow Power claims Australian first at new smart solar farm


From pv magazine Australia

Flow Power, a Melbourne-based renewable energy retailer, says the “cutting-edge” Berri Energy Project – built on the site of a disused racecourse, about 240 kilometers northeast of Adelaide – has commenced commercial operations. The solar energy generation and storage facility will export 11,500 MWh of clean energy to the grid every year.

The Berri Energy Project comprises 5.8 MW of PV across 9,800 solar panels mounted on a single-axis tracking system, a 4.6 MVA inverter station and a 6.7 MWh DC-coupled battery energy storage system. It uses the same transformer and inverter for all 9,800 panels and 18 battery racks to export energy into the grid. A DC converter connects the inverter to the batteries, creating what Flow Power said is “the first fully operational utility-scale DC-coupled PV and battery energy storage system project in Australia.”

Flow Power says the Berri Energy Project will also provide frequency control ancillary services (FCAS) and voltage control services to ensure the stability and reliability of the local distribution network. Flow Power Chief Operating Officer Byron Serjeantson said the launch of commercial operations was “an exciting milestone as our first storage project and one of the first demonstrations of utility-scale DC-coupled storage in Australia.”

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The project incorporates technology from Canadian Solar, SMA, Nextracker and CATL. It uses Flow Power’s own kWatch Controller technology, which allows users to remotely respond to market price signals, optimizing and automating the management of energy systems. Flow Power says the Berri Energy Project boosts its total renewable energy portfolio to almost 450 MW of owned and contracted wind, solar and storage projects.

The project is underpinned by a long-term power purchase agreement with Westpac. The bank said it is part of its commitment to source the equivalent of 100% of its electricity requirements in Australia from clean energy sources by 2025.

The agreement with Flow Power will provide up to 32.5 GWh of power from the Berri Energy Project and the Ararat Wind Farm, about 180 kilometres northeast of Melbourne in rural Victoria. Westpac also has a pact for supply from Spark Infrastructure’s Bomen Solar Farm near Wagga Wagga in New South Wales.

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