Founded in 1998, Conergy is one of the world's largest pioneers of solar power, specialising in the design, finance, build and operation of high-performance solar systems for utility-scale power and businesses. The company has established subsidiaries in 15 countries and delivered Australia's first 1Megawat (MW) project in the Northern Territory.
“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. They can also smooth solar energy output on cloudy days,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht.
The plant will generate and store enough renewable energy to power more than 3000 homes and create up to 60 jobs in the Lakeland region during construction. Ivor Frischknecht also commented that the transition into global energy is happening faster than expected in Australia and the country's growing expertise in integrating renewables and batteries could readily translate into economic opportunities worldwide.
An island in the desert?
Solar farms with storage can be especially useful in remote areas within Australia. The project is aiming to be the first in the world to test a concept known as ‘islanding' from the main electricity grid. The local town of Lakeland will be powered solely by solar and batteries for several hours during these tests. Connected to the Ergon Energy network, testing of the batteries will commence over a two-year period, culminating in testing ‘island mode' during the evening peak.
ARENA, along with Conergy, has set up a steering group to build a knowledge base with BHP Billiton, Ergon Energy and Origin Energy. The project will provide invaluable insight into solar storage and remote operations.
BHP Billiton Dr Graham Winkelman said, “ beyond contributing to global greenhouse gas emissions reductions, solar and storage projects may also assist BHP Billiton in the future to reduce its operating emissions while helping to support energy reliability at some of our more remote operations.”
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