ARENA tips $18m into remote-hybrid project

July 14, 2014 by  
Filed under Wind Energy Tips

The Australian Renewables Agency has announced $18.5 million for a hybrid renewables-diesel project in South Australia’s Coober Pedy, which could pave the way for the technology to be deployed to other sites.

The hybrid plant is seeking to integrate up to 2MW of solar photovoltaics, 3MW of wind “and enabling technologies” – such as fast-start diesel engines and an advanced control system – into an existing 3.9MW diesel power station, while also harnessing significant battery storage, the preliminary design having 0.75 MWh of storage with capacity for 2MW of instantaneous output.

“These enabling technologies have been successfully tried and tested by Hydro Tasmania at the ARENA-supported King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project and this represents an opportunity to see them evolve for use on the mainland and in an outback community that has few alternative energy options,” ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said. 

The project, by ASX-listed Energy Developments (ENE), promises to provide the remote town with 70% renewable energy over the life of the plant.

Energy Developments – which currently owns or operates 368MW of remote, off-grid energy across 33 Australian sites – reiterated that the project could pave the way for more off-grid hybrid systems.

“This project highlights the company’s potential to implement renewable hybrid systems in off grid applications to provide customers with innovative energy solutions. It also strategically positions ENE to be a leader in renewable hybrid systems in the remote off grid sector,” company managing director Greg Pritchard said.

“We see this ARENA supported project as the precursor to other renewable hybrid projects that we are keen to implement throughout Australia to meet our customer’s growing interest in these energy solutions, and to significantly displace existing diesel generation.” 

The first stage of the funding agreement process involves ENE undertaking a “detailed project assessment”, and key funding agreement commitments are conditional on and subject to ENE’s final investment decision, execution of project agreements and satisfaction of other project conditions, the company said. 

Mr Frischknecht said the further demonstration of the enabling technologies was expected to reduce costs over time and improve opportunities for future deployment without subsidies. 

“ENE has identified a long-term pathway to commercialisation by demonstrating the potential to progressively deploy renewable solutions at off-grid locations as technology costs reduce and fossil fuel costs increase,” he said.

“ENE intends to restructure its existing power purchasing agreement with the District Council of Coober Pedy with a new 20-year agreement, providing a long-term customer base to support the renewable energy project. 

The project is subject to final investment approval from ENE, and if approved will be complete in mid-2017, the company said.

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