Australia’s Victoria State Ramps Up Renewables

Victoria state in Australia continues to see dramatic growth in solar and wind power, as well as battery storage systems, as the region rapidly expands its power generation capacity, in large part to serve the commercial and industrial sector.

The 90-MW Karadoc solar farm south of Mildura in northwest Victoria entered commercial operation in late October, becoming the largest solar park in the state, at least for now. The farm is owned by Munich, Germany-based BayWa, which through its BayWa r.e. unit develops renewable energy projects. The Karadoc farm surpasses the 88-MW Bannerton solar park to take the top spot for Victoria’s solar generation capacity. Another large BayWa project, the 81-MW Yatpool solar farm, came online in November. Karadoc’s power is being sold to Carlton & United Breweries (CUB), a major Australian brewer that plans to source 100% of its power from renewable energy. CUB signed a 12-year power purchase agreement with BayWa in March. CUB CEO Jan Craps at the time said, “This represents an important step in CUB’s commitment to 100% of its electricity being sourced from renewables. Beyond our driving commitment to reduce our emissions, the investment also stacks up when you look at the reduced price we will pay to power our operations. Moving to renewable energy will ensure that we have certainty of supply and pricing, something that is incredibly important for a manufacturing business like ours.”

The addition of the Karadoc and Yatpool projects, along with the 88-MW Wemen solar farm owned by WIRCON GmbH, parent company of WIRSOL, Australia’s largest integrated renewable energy developer, means Victoria now has six utility-scale solar farms online, including the 50-MW Ganawarra and 15-MW Swan Hill projects. Two battery storage facilities also are online: the 30-MW Ballarat battery installation (Figure 1), and the 25-MW Ganawarra battery, located next to the Ganawarra solar farm. Several wind farms also are under construction in Victoria, including the 530-MW Stockyard Hill, the 320-MW Moorabool, the 225-MW Murra Warra, and the 204-MW Bulgana projects.

1. Battery storage project comes online. The Ballarat battery installation was built by a consortium including Spotless, AusNet Services, EnergyAustralia, and Fluence. The 30-MW system is located at the AusNet Services Ballarat Terminal Station in Warrenheip, Ballarat, Victoria. The system includes nine purpose-built and engineered battery enclosures for its lithium-ion batteries, operating system and environmental controls, security, and associated cooling and safety systems. Courtesy: Australian Renewable Energy Agency

The Bulgana project includes a 21-MW Tesla battery providing power to a new greenhouse operated by Nectar Farms. Two more solar farm projects are under construction and scheduled to come online in May 2019: the 100-MW Nurmurkah solar farm, being built by French developer Neoen, and the Kiamal project, a 256-MW solar farm being built by France’s Total Eren that will easily become Victoria’s largest solar park.

Total Eren Project Manager Aaron Sluczanowski said the company has power purchase agreements with food company Mars Australia, and energy retailers Flow Power and Alinta Energy. Power from the Numurkah facility will be sent to the Laverton steel factory in Victoria as part of an agreement with GFG Alliance, the London, UK-based industrial group led by Sanjeev Gupta. Gupta’s group has a presence in more than 30 countries, with investments in power generation, mining, steel, and aluminum, as well as power infrastructure.

The GFG Alliance, through its Simec Zen Energy unit, has plans to build more than 1 GW of solar and storage in South Australia, with the power mostly going to steel manufacturers and other commercial and industrial users. Numurkah also has an agreement with the Victorian government to supply renewable energy certificates for the region’s tram network. Numurkah’s opening will bring Neoen’s renewable energy portfolio in Australia to 1 GW. “Numurkah is an important project for Neoen … because it marks the achievement of our first gigawatt of projects in Australia, either under construction or in operation,” Franck Woitiez, managing director of Neoen Australia, said in a statement.

Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor.