Australia’s First Large Scale Solar+Storage Plant Connected To Grid

The first large-scale solar and big battery storage installation in Australia – the Lakeland project near Cooktown in far north Queensland – has been officially connected to the grid.

The 10.8MW solar facility, combined with a 1.4MW/5.3MWh battery storage facility is located near the very edge of the grid and when first announced in 2016 was being pitched as a world-first for remote, edge of grid technology, and one that would trigger a host of similar projects across Australia.

The project had been due for completion nearly six months ago under its original timetable, but the complexity of the first-of-its-type project – for the developers, the local grid owner, and the market operator – pushed the timetable back.

It has been feeding into the grid since late November, but only recently completed its full sign off with Ergon, the local network operator, and the Australian Energy Market Operator.

The project was budgeted in 2016 at $42.5 million – which seems expensive now (and possibly explained by cost estimates at the time, the location, and its first-of-its kind status) – and received a $17.4 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

It will be used to “firm up” the supply of solar power into the grid, and also to provide “islanding”, meaning that local homes and businesses can remain connected to the grid even in the case of a major fault elsewhere.

“Lakeland is a demonstration for how integrated solar and batteries can together deliver dispatchable supply feeding electricity into the grid when it is needed, whether or not the sun is available at that moment,” ARENA boss Ivor Frischknecht said in a statement.

“It will also be a test case for deliberate ‘islanding’, where a section of the grid continues to provide power while disconnected from the main grid. This capability will increase the reliability of local supply and pave the way for other fringe of the grid locations.”

Those “other” projects are already occurring. In Western Australia, Carnegie Clean Energy is to build a battery storage installation to perform much the same service for the town of Kalbarri, at the northern edge of the state’s main grid.

In South Australia, a battery is being built on behalf of Electranet and AGL to provide network security and islanding services on the Yorke Peninsula, where it will combine with the Wattle Point wind farm and local rooftop solar.

A bigger solar plus battery storage facility – 44MW of solar and 21MW/26MWh of battery storage – is also planned to go next to Tilt Renewables’ Snowtown wind farm in South Australia.