Australian First: Hybrid Renewable Energy Project

ARENA contributes $9.9 million in funding to the country’s first hybrid renewable energy farm.

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This week, The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced they would contribute $9.9 million in funding to the country’s first hybrid renewable energy farm.

Located near Canberra, ARENA’s CEO Ivor Frischknecht said that the project uses wind and solar technologies in a unique combination.

In the plan, a 10MW photovoltaic (PV) plant will be built next to the Gullen Range Wind Farm.

That project consists of 73 turbines covering 25 kms of territory on the Great Dividing Range, just south of the small township of Crookwell, which is a 90-minute drive from Canberra.

The goal for the new solar farm is to produce enough energy for 3,000 homes – about 22,000 MWh of electricity.

The critical advantage for such a project, says Frischknecht, is that solar and wind were ‘complementary’ and therefore ideal in this scenario.

“Co-location provides more continuous energy generation, “ he said.

“Wind farms tend to generate more energy overnight whilst solar only generates during the day.”

The Gullen Wind Farm produces more power in winter, Frischknecht said, while solar farms are apt to generate more electricity in summer.

In announcing the hybrid project, which has an ultimate budget of $26 million, Frischknecht encouraged the wind farm sector of Australia to look closely at this development as a role model.

“[Stakeholders] can save money on grid connection, approvals and site development costs by co-locating wind and solar plants, whilst also reducing environmental impacts,” he said.

Scheduled for completion in 2017, Goldwind, a large prominent wind farm tech company based in China, with major global operations in the USA, Asia, and Europe will build and operate the new project with partners Beijing and Jingneng Clean Energy.

The New Gullen Range Wind Farm’s co-location with the existing Gullen Range Solar Farm could save the latter as much as $6 million in project costs, says ARENA.

A study conducted by ARENA has found that hybrid energy projects like that underway now on the Great Dividing Range could bring 1000MW of solar energy to existing wind farms. That is enough electricity to support 700,000 homes.