Alinta Signs Up For Huge Solar And Battery Project In South Australia

A 200MW South Australia solar project that proposes to add “one of the largest” batteries in the Southern Hemisphere should be under construction by Christmas, after its developers snared a power purchase agreement with major utility, Alinta Energy.

The deal, announced on Thursday, locks in finance for the $480 million Solar River Project, which is being developed by Jason May and Richard Winter near Robertstown, in South Australia’s mid-north.

May, who says this moment has been two years in the making, would not disclose the financial details of the 15-year PPA, but told RenewEconomy that the deal with Hong Kong-owned Alinta was for 75 per cent of the solar farm’s output, making the project “very bankable.”

Solar River, which May says has been in the conceptual phase for a good deal longer than two years, is a substantial project, integrating 200MW of PV and a 100MW/300MWh battery under one generation licence.

Exactly who is supplying the battery is not being disclosed yet, either, but May does say it will come from one of the largest companies in the world, and use “cutting edge,” never before deployed technology.

“This is the first purpose-built PV battery system in the world,” May told RE on Thursday. “It’s never been deployed before, but because of who are, it can be banked.”

May says the energy storage system, billed in the joint press release as “one of the largest batteries in the Southern Hemisphere” will have a three-hour charge cycle, and will be cycling one to two times a day, depending on the needs of the network.

For Alinta – described here by Giles Parkinson as one of the big four games in town for the renewables industry in Australia – the PPA meets a decent chunk of the 1000MW of contracts for wind and solar the utility put out a call for last July.

The utility closed down the last of South Australia’s coal generators in Port Augusta in 2016, but a year later bought the 1050MW Loy Yang B brown coal power generator in Victoria.

In a formal statement published on Thursday, CEO Jeff Dimery said the Solar River deal symbolised Alinta Energy’s “determination to deliver cleaner and more affordable energy for South Australians.”

“We’re committed to backing smart, high-quality renewables projects that support our growing customer base,” he said.

Just last month, the company confirmed plans to develop a 60MW solar farm in the Pilbara region of north west Australia, to slash energy costs for the big mining operations in the area and underpin in new investments and mine expansions.

As we reported at the time, the project is considered ground-breaking because “it is likely the biggest solar farm to be built into such a small and isolated grid, and landing in the middle of a major mining province, will likely change some key thinking about the shift to renewables.”

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