This 4.9MW solar farm will be South Australia’s largest, for a while

By: Giles Parkinson

South Australia has led the world with the integration of wind and solar into the grid, but the element that has been missing is large-scale solar farms – it’s all been made up of wind farms and rooftop solar to date.

That is about to change. The 220MW Bungala solar farm, near Port Augusta, is under construction, and will be followed by other large projects such as Tailem Bend, the Whyalla steel solar farm, and DP Energy’s wind-solar hybrid, amongst others.

Beating them all to completion will likely be a 4.9MW solar project in Peterborough, north of Adelaide and little more than a rainbow’s distance from the Hornsdale wind farm and the Tesla big battery near Jamestown.

Renew Power Group has applied for a generation license for the Peterborough Solar Farm from the state regulator and hopes it will be up and running by March, selling the output on market (merchant) rather than waiting for a power purchase agreement, although that may come later.

If it meets that timetable, it will – at least until the 220MW Bungala is finished later in the year – be the largest solar project in the state grid with the highest penetration of wind and solar in the world.

“We are also exploring opportunities around subsequently placing a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), however the business plan does not depend on prior placement of a PPA in order to commence constructions,” the company says in its application.

“Strategy around marketing of the Large Generation Certificates (LGCs) is similar: we intend to initially market LGCs on a merchant basis and are investigating ways to lock in a short-term price (for example, via a 2-year hedge arrangement).”

Renew Power Group director Kevin Heydt said the company had several other similar-sized projects in South Australia, and could have a portfolio of around 20MW by the end of 2018.

“The interesting thing with projects around 5MW is that you have a larger universe of potential off-takers,” Heydt said. “We can do something with a whole range of counter-parties.”

The solar farm has chosen NextTracker mounting systems and single axis trackers, and Trina solar panels. GCo Electrical will be the EPC contractor.

Renew Power Group also owns 50 per cent of two-turbine Maroona wind farm in Victoria, which will “energise” next week.