Pioneering solar and battery storage project

Lakeland home to pioneering solar and battery storage project


The solar panels at the Lakeland solar farm.

The solar panels at the Lakeland solar farm.

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A Cape York community may hold the answer to solving power issues in rural and remote Australia.

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Australia’s first grid connected solar and battery storage project in Lakeland, Cape York Peninsula, is being commissioned this week.

The $42.5 million Conergy project features 41,440 solar panels, which will provide 13 megawatts of solar power. The second part is a 1.4 MW solar battery, which will provide 5.3 MW of energy.

Conergy managing director Christopher West said all major construction had been completed on site.

He said this could be the first project of its kind in the world.

“The solar project is typical but we are adding a battery,” Mr West said.

“The main PV plant will be switched on this week and within a month following that, the battery will be switched on.

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“There are projects in the world with solar and storage but what is unique about this is that it is connected to the grid, therefore, in needs to be able to interact with the grid like a normal power station.

“The battery helps the plant act like a power station.

“The problem with renewables like solar and wind is that cloud can come over or the wind might stop blowing and the grid doesn’t know that so you get big fluctuations and brown outs.”

While the project has a commercial aspect, it will be a pilot in trying to understand how similar systems can help provide reliable electricity to rural and remote communities.

Ground Breaking: Site manager Daniel Stewart and Inka Heile, manager projects and engineering, in amongst the solar panels.

Ground Breaking: Site manager Daniel Stewart and Inka Heile, manager projects and engineering, in amongst the solar panels.

Mr West said Conergy was assisting the Australian Government to understand how large scale batteries can complement renewable systems and result in less interruptions.

“It will look at things like how does the battery interact with the grid, how does it interact with other sources of power supply like coal and wind and how does it interact with the community of Lakeland,” Mr West said.

“If we can do that these can be scaled and rolled out.” Mr West said Lakeland was chosen for a number of reasons.

“ARENA wanted to study how locations at the fringe-of-grid that can start to incorporate renewables into the power mix,” Mr West said.

“For a lot of rural and regional area and especially remote Australia if they are connected to the grid they are at the end of the network.

“ARENA wanted to study an existing town and existing power lines and figured out how a renewable plant could work.

“We studied a few locations and agreed Lakeland was ideal because it’s at the end of the grid, it’s got various power lines coming into it.

“And then there is islanding – if the grid gets broken, the plant needs to be able to step in using the batteries and keep providing power to the community. It needed to be sized appropriately.”

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