Australia’s World First: Big Solar and Storage

ARENA collaborates with Conergy to launch the project that will establish a plant to supply solar power outside of peak hours.

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The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has reminded citizens that Australia is ahead of the curb, announcing a world-first project to establish a plant that will supply solar power after dawn and peak hours.

ARENA, who have funded $17.4 million in the project, is collaborating with Conergy to a create and manage a 10.8 MW (AC) solar plant which will store significant amounts of the lithium-ion battery near the town of Lakeland.

The project will involve separating the Lakeland district from the main electricity grid, known formally as a concept called “islanding”.

This means that the area will solely be powered by the solar energy provided from the plant for a number of hours during the day for testing purposes.

CEO of ARENA, Ivor Frischnecht believes this project reinforces the commitment Australia has to ensure it does not fall behind as the transition to renewable energy accelerates.

“The global energy transition is happening faster than many anticipated and Australia is well placed to be a key player. Our growing expertise in integrating renewables and batteries could readily translate into economic opportunities including export dollars in world markets.”

The plant will also create 60 jobs during the construction in the Lakeland area, as well as help local farmers when using energy during peak times.

“We know that battery storage will play a critical role in our future energy systems. The benefit of adding batteries to solar farms is simple; they store energy from the sun for use at peak times and overnight.” Said Mr Frischnecht.

As well as working with Conergy, ARENA were also joined by the likes of BHP Billiton, Ergon Energy and Origin Energy.

The collaboration is designed to help both sides, as ARENA learns “unique lessons” from the large organisations, while they receive valuable information regarding the sustainability of renewable energy.

BHP Senior Manager Environment, Dr Graham Winkelman, stated that BHP’s involvement in the Lakeland Solar and Storage Project demonstrates their continued obligation to providing a healthier environment for Australia.

“BHP Billiton has a commitment to accelerating the development and deployment of low emissions technologies and we believe that to do this we must facilitate the sharing of knowledge and lessons from projects such as the Lakeland Solar and Storage Project,” Dr Winkelman said.

This project signals an ongoing promise to establish Australia as a significant player in renewable energy from ARENA, following from their recent foundation of a testing system to assess multiple renewable battery sources.