A renewables project in Far North Queensland will be Australia’s first to combine large scale solar photovoltaics with battery storage, allowing it to supply at peak times and when there is no sun.

Conergy, one of the world’s largest solar companies, will begin construction next month on the 40,000-plus panel, 10.8 megawatt solar PV plant located near Lakeland in Far North Queensland. The project will have 1.4MW/5.3MWh of lithium-ion battery storage.

The $42.5 million project has received $17.4 million funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, which the government is soon expected to strip grant-making ability from.

Conergy said it was the Southern Hemisphere’s first integrated solar, storage and fringe-of-grid project of its size and scale.

The company’s managing director David McCallum said solar and storage was “the Holy Grail” of the global renewable energy industry.

“This is an exciting opportunity to combine the latest developments in solar technology with utility-scale battery storage to feed consistent, quality power into the existing electricity grid,” he said.

ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said learning from the project would help get more renewables onto the grid.

“We know that battery storage will play a critical role in our future energy systems,” he said. “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.

 

“This 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.”

He said solar farms with storage would be particularly useful for fringe-of-grid locations, decreasing outages caused by network constraints, a lack of infrastructure and long distance power lines.

“This project is aiming to be the first in the world to test a concept known as ‘islanding’ from the main electricity grid,” Mr Frischknecht said. “The local town of Lakeland will be powered solely by solar and batteries for several hours during these tests.”

Origin Energy has already signed a power purchase agreement with Conergy to buy the energy.

The project is scheduled for completion in April 2017.