Kidston Renewable Hub
“WE ARE very PLEASED THAT bhp BILLITON is TAKING AN ACTIVE part in THE LAKELAND SOLAR AND STORAGE KSP, further INVESTIGATING THE USE Of RELIABLE RENEWABLE Energy TECHNOLOGIES AS part Of Their OPERATIONS in REMOTE AND Off-grid mine SITES AND A COMMITMENT TO reducing EMISSIONS.”
Australia’s renewable energy industry is growing at a rapid pace, yet there is still knowledge gaps when it comes to large-scale solar PV and battery storage servicing fringe-of-grid regions. Conergy’s $42.5 million Lakeland Solar and Storage project will test a number of battery operation modes and share lessons learnt with industry partners.
LOCATED in far North Queensland on the Cape York Peninsula, the Lakeland Solar and Storage project is the first Australian utility-scale solar and storage facility built on the outskirts of the electricity grid. This is an area typically prone to energy reliability challenges from lack of supporting infrastructure, network limitations, and long distance power lines.
Developed by one of the world’s largest downstream solar companies Conergy, Lakeland comprises a 13 megawatt (MW), 41,440 panel solar array; 1.4MW lithium-ion battery storage capable of delivering up to 5.3 megawatt-hours (MWH) of energy; and a smart system controller to facilitate consistent power supply for the Lakeland community.
Construction began in September last year, with commissioning now underway for the project, which will be connected to the Ergon Energy substation -- one of the most remote National Electricity Market (NEM) substations in the country.
Once operational, the project has potential to revolutionise future power supply for fringe-of-grid locations, with a number of battery operation modes scheduled to be tested over the next two years, including ‘grid-to-islanding’ functionality.
Conergy managing director Christopher West said the project will set measurable performance results for any future projects with solar and storage connected to the grid in remote regions.
“We have a unique head start in the race to roll out large-scale renewable solar energy, battery storage and smart controller capability,” he said.
After a six month construction phase, commissioning of the Lakeland Solar and Storage project began in July, marking the Lakeland region’s first step towards energy independence.
The project incorporates Conergy’s Hybrid Energy Storage Solution (CHESS) technology that was established to run on either off-grid, fringe-of-grid or on-grid power system set-ups, and provide demandable renewable power supply 24 hours a day.
“The CHESS technology uses a remotely controlled and monitored inverter system that provides predictable and demandable renewable power supply as well as voltage and frequency control to improve power quality,” Mr West said.
“CHESS also performs piloting and testing of other programmable energy set-ups in a real-life scenario.”
The testing modes to be completed over the next two years included islanding functionality to demonstrate the Lakeland community could run independently from the grid in the event of a power outage; baseload capabilities testing to demonstrate the continuous and reliable supply of power output when solar and battery storage are combined; and primary control reserve services to test its capability as a renewable power station reserve on immediate response standby.
“The role of the combined smart controller and utility-scale battery is to initially demonstrate its capability to be able to identify and ultimately perform the role of a primary control reserve,” Mr West said.
“Islanding is also another future function that the community could benefit from if there was a complete power failure down the line.”
Running simultaneously to the battery testing, Conergy’s Knowledge Sharing Program (KSP) will share potential learnings with project stakeholders, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), mining giant BHP, Ergon Energy and Origin Energy who will be buying power from the plant.
“ARENA’S $17.5m support of the project reinforces the project’s importance in demonstrating real-life functionality of large-scale solar and utility-scale battery storage connected to the grid, offering a reliable energy output without causing disruption or instability,” Mr West said.
“ARENA is an active member of the KSP Steering Committee which oversees the Battery Test Plan and reporting milestones.”
The program’s aim was to assess learning from the CHESS technology to accelerate the introduction of similar developments across regional Australia.
“We are very pleased that BHP Billiton is taking an active part in the Lakeland Solar and Storage KSP, further investigating the use of reliable renewable energy technologies as part of their operations in remote and off-grid mine sites and a commitment to reducing emissions,” he said.
Long term benefits
On top of the 50 jobs already created in the region during construction, the Lakeland project will also require 10 operation positions from the local community over the project’s expected operating life of more than 20 years.
The project was also set to address the ongoing energy security problems facing the region.
“The local Lakeland region currently has power quality and reliability issues due to it being located at the end of the National Electricity Market (NEM) transmission line,” Mr West said.
“Having a locally-based renewable power generation plant will solve these problems.
“It’s also creating an opportunity for renewables to expand into the mainstream energy market and prove the technology can provide a credible and stable power supply.”
Mr West said there was also scope to expand on the current Lakeland project to provide consistent power quality in the State even further North.
“This is the first of many projects to be completed by Conergy in the region including a Lakeland Stage II and possible Stage III totalling more than 100MW,” he said.
“Conergy is also focusing on the many other Australia-wide development opportunities that have come our way since having successfully constructed such a milestone project in Queensland.”
the project created 50 jobs during the construction stage, and 10 operational positions.