July 5, 2018 Read More →

‘Baseload’ renewables coming to Australia

Renew Economy:

Australia is currently experiencing an unprecedented boom in solar and wind energy investments, both in terms of capacity and dollars. It will likely take the country to a 33 percent share of renewables as early as 2020.

But there is another fascinating development taking place–as more and more wind and solar is added to the grid, the shape of their output is also changing, and in a way that should give confidence about a clean energy future based around a high level of variable renewable energy sources.

Two significant trends that are emerging: the first is the offering of “firming contracts” to those looking to source a significant amount of their supply from wind and solar, but wary of wholesale price risks when the sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow. The second is the development of projects that do much the same thing but this time by the physical combination of wind, solar and some form of storage at the one site, or nearby. Proposals and projects are now emerging across the country.

One of the first “solar firming” products came from TFS Green, who helped put together a package for ERM Power that takes the risk out of contracting with a solar farm. This is a product that simply seeks to manage the risk from variable solar output by providing price swaps. It allows a solar plant to provide a customer with a firm price for a flat load.

Roger Price, the CEO of Windlab, also talks of fully dispatchable renewables–or, to borrow the parlance of the coal lobby, “baseload renewables”, with the Kennedy Energy Park inland from Townsville. The first stage of this project is being built now, combining 43 MW of wind, 15 MW of solar, and 4 MWh of Tesla battery storage. “It’s the perfect match,” Price says. “You get solar in middle of the day, the wind resource picks up as the sun starts to set, blows through night, then drops after the solar” emerges for the morning peak.

And, of course, there is the Kidston project in North Queensland, not far from Kennedy, where Genex Power is looking to combine 270 MW solar and 250 MW of pumped hydro, with maybe 6-8 hours storage, and then add 150 MW wind power for good measure.

More: The changing shape of wind and solar in Australia’s grid

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