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article imageAustralia to get $1bn solar farm and world's largest battery

By Karen Graham     Mar 30, 2017 in Technology
South Australia is getting a huge clean energy boost with a $1.0 billion solar farm consisting of 3.4 million solar panels and 1.1 million batteries. It is expected to start operating later this year.
The solar farm and battery project is being built by battery storage developer Lyon Group, a partnership of three companies, in South Australia's Riverland region. Construction of the solar-battery farm is expected to start in June and be operational by December, according to Australia's Financial Review.
Brisbane-based Lyon Group, headed by David Green, with backing by Mitsubishi of Japan and US hedge fund Magnetar Capital, has already secured land in Morgan in the Riverland region. The whole project will allow for 330 megawatts (MW) of power generation and a 100MW battery with four hours of storage – or 400MWh capacity.
Green says the project will be a “significant stimulus” for South Australia. “The combination of the solar and the battery will significantly enhance the capacity available in the South Australian market,” he said, according to The Guardian.
Green told The Guardian, “We see the inevitability of the need to have large-scale solar and integrated batteries as part of any move to decarbonize. Any short-term decisions are only what I would call noise in the process.” He added the company has a similar project in the works at Roxby Downs.
Solar storage batteries made by Tesla in Solar City.
Solar storage batteries made by Tesla in Solar City.
Several companies interested in building the batteries
South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill said the Lyon Group is one of the companies who has expressed interest in building the 100MW battery. The battery project is part of the state's recently announced power plan that will be bankrolled by a $150 million renewable technology fund.
Weatherill said the state will consider bidders in the coming weeks. However, Lyon Group has already indicated the Riverside project would begin construction regardless of the results of the government's bidding process.
Solar Farms will help in preventing South Australia's blackouts
Australia's summer heat wave resulted in rolling blackouts in many parts of the country, including South Australia. The extreme heat put an added strain on the electrical grid, and at one point, the AEMO was forced to order load shedding that resulted in 90,000 customers losing electric power in February.
And in referencing the statewide 2016 blackout, the AEMO issued its fourth and final report a few days ago, saying the September 28 event found wind farm settings “responding to multiple disturbances ... that led to the Black System," reports The Australian.
This final report was issued despite Premier Weatherill repeatedly insisting that renewables had not contributed to any blackouts in the state. With the state already using renewables to generate 40 percent of its electricity, it is evident that building their own statewide electrical grid might be a good idea, and solar farms will be a big step in that direction. And Weatherill says, “Projects of this sort, renewable energy projects, represent the future.”
Hazelwood shutting down Unit 1 for the last time on the 29th of March  2017. The thick plume of smok...
Hazelwood shutting down Unit 1 for the last time on the 29th of March, 2017. The thick plume of smoke is caused by a combination of the electrostatic precipitators switching off automatically during the shut down to eliminate the risk of them igniting, and what's left of the auxiliary fuel (briquettes) stored on site being fed into the boiler to empty their stores.
Hazelwood power plant shuts down
The Hazelwood Power Station is a brown coal-fuelled thermal power station located in the Latrobe Valley of Victoria, Australia. It has been in operation for at least 45 years, supplying more than 25 percent of Victoria's electricity and over 5.0 percent of the country's total electricity demand.
However, the power plant was shut down yesterday, just one day before the Riverland solar farm and battery project was made public. Additionally, the former boss at Hazelwood, Tony Concannon, announced that the combination of solar and storage was already cheaper than baseload gas plants, and would, therefore, be cheaper than any new coal generators too.
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