Storage just gets better and bigger, during September Conergy will start construction on a grid-connected, battery storage and utility-scale solar project. The artist’s impression above shows the scope of the 10.8 MW project including 1.4 MW/5.3 MWh battery and 41,400 solar panels.

An arrangement is so large it is being billed the Southern Hemisphere’s 1st integrated solar, storage and fringe-of-grid project of this size and scale.

The $42.5 million project, placed at Lakeland in Far North Queensland is intended to consistently feed renewable energy into the grid and show the capability for large scale solar and storage to provide dependable future power quality and supply at a fringe-of grid place.

Range over 60 hectares, the project is being developed, constructed and engineered by owner Conergy and downstream solar company; all being well by April 2017 the plant will be complete and connect to Ergon Energy’s remote existing substation which in turn joins to the NEM and will produce enough electricity to power the equal of more than 3000 homes around the clock.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht described the project aims to be the 1st in the world to test a concept well-known as ‘islanding’ from the central electricity grid with Lakeland powered by batteries and solar for several hours during testing.

The project has generated the interest and contribution of many big players: a Knowledge Sharing Program has been established amongst Conergy, BHP Billiton, ARENA, Origin Energy and Ergon Energy.

Origin is purchasing the power from the plant under a power purchase contract and has repeated its intent to be the largest single investor in utility-scale solar in the nation; Ergon is considering if the approach could help evade network upgrade costs in other regional communities in Queensland, and BHP Billiton expectations to gain valued insights into the potential for solar and storage to help its remote operations and in turn limit emissions.

David McCallum is the managing director of Conergy said that, “Utility-scale solar and storage, united with effective management software, is the Holy Grail of the international renewable energy industry and this is an exciting chance to combine the newest developments in solar technology by means of utility-scale battery storage to feed consistent, excellence power into the current electricity grid.”

In finance support ARENA has provided $17.4 million. Ivor Frischknecht thought “Figuring out how solar battery storage and PV technologies best work together at a large scale will be vital for assisting more renewables enter our grids. We recognize that battery storage will play an important role in our future energy systems.

At the edges of our electricity grids solar farms with storage can be particularly useful. This project adds to ARENA’s selection of fringe-of-grid projects, which demonstrate how renewables can improve the reliability of energy supply in regional Australia and profit local networks.

Fringe-of-grid places face a number of challenges with consistency and outages caused by network limits, a lack of infrastructure and long distance power lines.