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Top 35 Solar Project in Australia

08 Feb. 2019 by Mina Mesbahi, Solarplaza

The sun has been shining for the Australian solar PV market, with a flurry of large-scale solar farms becoming operational and record-breaking rooftop installations being deployed at a dizzying speed. The number of households with solar rooftops, in true sun-loving Aussie nature, peaked at two million in 2018, with Queensland leading the national installations 1. According to Green Energy Markets, large-scale solar PV grew by an extraordinary 300% in 2018. The cumulative capacity of Australian solar PV installations reached 10.14 GW at the end of September 2018 2. This indicates a hockey-stick growth of almost 10 GW from 2010 onwards. Driven by the boom of DG, the initial striking growth particularly happened between 2010 to 2013. One hot trend shaping the Australian solar market is the battery boom. Based on a report published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), Australia is poised to be amongst the nine countries ushering in the big battery era. BNEF predicts that this industry could be worth AUD$1.7 trillion by the year 2030. In preparation for the inaugural edition of Solar Asset Management Australia, and in order to better decipher the country’s solar PV landscape, we have compiled and analysed the ‘Top 35 Operational Solar projects in Australia’, including some of the paramount battery storage projects.

Top 5 Australian Solar PV Plants

# Name Primary Owner Stake [%] Capacity (MW) Operational
1Bungala Solar ProjectEnel Green Power50220.002018F.O.
2Coleambally Solar FarmNeoen100150.00F.O.F.O.
3Daydream Solar FarmBlackrock90F.O.F.O.F.O.
4Ross River Solar FarmPalisade Investment PartnersF.O.F.O.F.O.F.O.
5Sun Metals Townsville Solar FarmF.O.F.O.F.O.F.O.F.O.
F.O. - Access the full overview for the complete Top 35

Access the full Top 35 Overview



Quick Facts & Figures

  • The solar projects presented in this overview comprise a total capacity of 2.1 GW, more than 59% of which is formed by the cumulative capacity of the top 10 projects, which are shown in the interactive map above. The smallest and biggest projects of the top 35 projects account for a capacity of 10 and 220 MW respectively. As illustrated in the interactive map and figure 1, Queensland is home to both the highest capacity (1,130.80 MW) and largest number (19) of projects from the top 35 projects.
  • About 8% of the projects listed have an operational battery storage system installed. Situated in Gannawarra, one of these projects marks Australia’s largest battery co-located with a solar farm.  
  • As shown in figure 2, approximately 81% of the aforementioned 2.1 GW became operational only in 2018, a further testimony to a banner year for Australian large-scale PV. In the course of less than two months, 2019 has already witnessed more than 100 MW of solar coming online. With a capacity of 20 MW, only one of the top projects was connected to the grid in 2013. The giant 220-MW Bungala Solar Project, Australia's largest solar project, became fully operational at the end of 2018.

Pioneering Projects

The gigantic Bungala Solar Project, owned by Italy’s Enel Green Power and the Dutch Infrastructure Fund (DIF), began complete operations in November 2018. Two solar farms comprise this project with the potential to feed electricity to more than 95,000 homes. The Bungala Solar Project was commissioned and connected to the grid in multiple stages. The first portion (45 MW) of the project began operations in May of 2018. Although this project holds the trophy for the largest completed solar project in the country to date, there are constructions underway for other, bigger projects such as the Limondale (349 MW), Sunraysia (255 MW) and Kiamal (256.5 MW) solar farms.

Bungala Solar Farm

Located in the north of Queensland, the 150 MW Daydream solar project was connected to the grid in August of 2018 and was developed by Edify Energy. This Australian renewable company was also in charge of overseeing the construction and deployment of the Gannawarra Solar Farm (60 MW), paired with the 25 MW/ 50 MWh Tesla lithium-ion battery storage system. The Gannawarra Energy Storage System (GESS) began exporting electricity to the grid in October 2018. The GESS project represents one of the largest solar+storage facilities in the world and the very largest in Australia. One of the unique characteristics of this project, paving the path for a new commercial model for solar+storage, is the fact that a utility-scale battery storage had never been retrofitted to an existing project prior to GESS. This battery project is owned by Edify Energy and Wirsol, and is operated by EnergyAustralia. 

Another impressive Australian solar+storage facility, located in North Queensland, is the Lakeland Solar Farm, which was retrofitted with a 1.4 MW/5.3 MWh lithium-ion battery. According to Autarsys, the developer behind the Lakeland storage system, what sets this battery storage system apart is its ability to demonstrate the following five functionalities simultaneously:

  • PV support mode: This includes features such as PV smoothing or peak shaving to stabilise the system.
  • Grid support mode: In this mode, the stability of the grid is enhanced to lower the probability of outages.
  • Island mode: Operating in this mode enables the local system to operate as an independent entity from the national grid, in case of power disruptions 
  • Market mode: This mode illustrates how the storage system can be profitable and partake in arbitrage trading opportunities.
  • Combined mode: Through combined mode, the project can test various combinations to optimise the bankability of the storage system.

The DeGrussa Solar Hybrid project is one of the other projects coupled with battery storage, which are presented in the top 35 overview. A 10.6 MW solar plant paired with a 4 MW/ 6 MWh lithium-ion battery form the DeGrussa project, developed and integrated by Juwi and owned by French IPP Neoen. At the beginning of February 2019, Energy Projects Solar made a new proposal for a 500 MW solar farm coupled with 250 MW of battery storage to be built in Adelaide, which will be leading the nation’s battery pack once fully operational.
(learn more about storage and solar asset management in our conference programme)

All in all, the only way is up for the solar PV trajectory down under, with the industry forecasted to experience yet another surge of solar installations in 2019. Given this imminent solar boom in Australia, it will certainly be interesting to follow how this overview will transform over the course of the coming years. With the ambitious planned pipeline and current installed capacity, looking further ahead to optimise operation and maintenance of these assets is becoming increasingly important. Solar Asset Management Australia will, amongst other topics, dissect the key ingredients for success in the large-scale solar PV space in the Australian market.  

To learn more, join us at the inaugural edition of Solar Asset Management Australia (26-27 June 2019, Sydney), a pre-eminent conference dedicated to optimisation of the operational phase of Australian solar assets. The Solar Asset Management conferences create a unique convergence of opportunities to network, learn and share knowledge, representing industry views across the entire asset management and O&M spectrum.   

Access the full Top 35 Solar Plants Australia

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