Massive hybrid renewable energy plant + storage set for South Australia

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The Goyder South project was unveiled yesterday at an open day in the Mid-North town of Burra, South Australia (SA), where Neoen proposes to build the major renewable energy hub. Locals were invited to discuss the proposal which would provide an enormous economic boost to a region stricken by drought.

Burra is perfectly located for its proximity to the proposed 330-kV Project Energy Connect (PEC), a 900km above-ground interconnector proposed to run between Robertson, SA, and Wagga Wagga, NSW. The project, led by ElectraNet and TransGrid, was recently given “critical infrastructure” status by the NSW Government and has an expected completion date in 2022.

With sole interconnection to Victoria, SA sits at the tail of the National Energy Market (NEM). PEC, which would connect SA with NSW, Australia’s most populous state, would not only provide SA and companies like Neoen with an ability to supply enormous quantities of clean energy but also secures SA against the supply shortages it has proved so vulnerable to in recent years, including recurring blackouts across the state in 2017 and an entire state black out in 2016.

The project is gargantuan in size, in excess of $1 billion, including a battery that would be 9x the size of the Tesla battery in Hornsdale, SA, also owned by Neoen and currently the biggest lithium ion battery in the world. Australia was Neoen’s leading market in 2018 – a year in which the company recorded a 63% surge in revenues, so it is no surprise the Paris-based renewables company, now publicly listed, is reinvesting its profits Down Under.

The Goyder South project is expected to be built in three stages; the first stage, slated for commencement in 2021, will see at least a third of the solar, wind and battery sections constructed, with the second and third stages depending on the timely construction of PEC.

Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan has welcomed the Goyder South project and emphasised the importance of PEC. “Neoen’s plan for the enormous Goyden South project is a resounding endorsement of the interconnector and the Marshall Government’s policies for cheaper, more reliable and sustainable power,” said van Holst Pellekaan.

“The $1.5 billion SA-NSW interconnector will provide a freeway for renewable energy from SA to the eastern seaboard,” said van Holst Pellekaan, “enabling huge renewables projects such as Goyder South to turn SA into an energy powerhouse.” Both projects are highly prized by the SA Government in its efforts to reach its goal of net-100% renewables in the 2030s.

“Four more large solar farms worth billions of dollars are also planned along the interconnector route,” continued van Holst Pellekaan.

News of the Goyder South project comes with an added sense of relief after the release of a report earlier this week from the Clean Energy Council (CEC) which showed a slowing in investment in new renewables to a level not seen since the prime ministership of Tony Abbott.

The lack of firm energy and climate policy at a federal level after the 2020 large-scale Renewable Energy Target (RET) is causing a timorousness among renewable investors. Thankfully, strong forward-thinking policies at the state level, particularly SA and Victoria, mean that serious developers like Neoen remain willing to propose world-leading renewable projects.

Last month Neon also received approval to develop the Crystal Brook Energy Park, another hybrid renewables + storage featuring 125 MW of wind, 150 MW of solar PV and 130 MW/400 MWh of lithium-ion battery storage.