Australian energy modeler installs power-management tech at defense sites


From pv magazine Australia

Proa, an Australian solar forecasting and modeling specialist, has installed its technology at the 3.2 MW RAAF Base Darwin and 11 MW Robertson Barracks solar farms in Australia's Northern Territory, making them comply with the territorial government’s strict generator performance standards (GPS).

The GPS requires Northern Territory solar farms to operate in a scheduled way, sustaining the exported power at their dispatch target during each dispatch interval, which has left some existing, non-compliant Northern Territory solar farms unused.

Victor Depoorter, managing director of Proa, said the company’s technology offers hope to solar farms in the Northern Territory that have been sitting idle since the strict government regulations were imposed.

“Proa’s system, as well as all the experience we have accumulated at the defense sites, could help to get these sites up and running,” he said. “We have a proven track record of cracking complex problems and creating innovative solutions in the energy industry.”

The 3.2 MW RAAF Base Darwin and 11 MW Robertson Barracks solar farms can act like scheduled gas, coal, or hydro generators, being able to deliver to exact energy export commitments.

“The farms completely manage the uncertainty and variability of their generation caused by clouds, bad weather or scheduled outages, backed with small battery energy storage systems (BESS), and our intelligent proprietary tools act as the brain of the Defence sites, making decisions dynamically on how much can be offered to the market,” said Depoorter. “For example, when there is the risk of clouds causing sudden ramps in the electricity generation, our system will pre-curtail the plant to a safe level that could be ‘firmed’ with the support of the onsite BESS.”

The system includes a high redundancy design and failover mechanisms to ensure 99.99% availability for the “brain” of a power plant, he said.

The 9,000-panel, 3.2 MW RAAF Base Darwin solar project near the city of Darwin – commissioned on Feb. 1 – is the first of five large-scale solar generators connected to the Darwin-Katherine electricity network to achieve the commercial dispatch of energy at 100% of the plant’s capacity.

Djuna Pollard – chief executive officer for Power and Water Corp., the Northern Territory electricity supplier – said the company is working closely with the Australian Department of Defence on other renewables projects.

The Australian government is investing AUD 13 million ($8.5 million) in solar energy generation and BESS installations at five defense sites across the Northern Territory. They include Tindal, Larrakeyah Barracks, and Harts Range, as part of the nationwide Defence Renewable Energy and Energy Security Program.

Robertson Barracks, a facility near Darwin, has a 11 MW solar farm and a 2.5 MW BESS that are scheduled to come online later this year.

The Northern Territory government has a target of 50% of electricity consumed in 2030 from grid connected installations, including all Aboriginal communities supplied by Indigenous Essential Services to be sourced from renewable energy by 2030, which forms a key part of the “Northern Territory Climate Change Response: Towards 2050.”

By Ev Foley

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