“Smart” solar farm switches on in northern NSW

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The Kanowna Solar Farm was launched in northern New South Wales (NSW) on Friday, showing, as state agriculture minister Adam Marshall put it, “what the future could possibly be like right across rural and remote NSW”. The 9 MW project near Moree built by Uralla-based Meralli Solar has been described, as “cutting-edge” for its use of both DC optimisers and DC-coupled battery architecture for central inverters.

Billed as the first solar farm in Australia to integrate both technologies, the Kanowna project will be able to dispatch electricity from the solar farm or the battery at times of peak demand and in the evening. The project is said to have opted for such a combination of technologies amid connection challenges.

“Due to the farm’s isolated location, engineers have pushed the boundaries when it comes to creating new ways to store solar power and connect to the grid,” Minister Marshall said at the opening ceremony. “Meralli Solar has pioneered a design and build more efficient than other manufacturers, and has used innovative DC technology to maximise output and battery storage, so they are able to send power to the local grid at times of peak demand.”

The Kanowna project features 27,500 units of 325W Seraphim MX modules with integrated cell string-level Maxim optimizers. It is reported that Seraphim’s smart module can enable up to 1.5x more modules per string, thanks to its voltage-limiting feature, and minimize DC system mismatch losses and long-term degradation rates to enhance production output by up to 5%.

The project also uses a “low environmental impact” Belectric PEG frame system that places the solar panels at less that a metre high, at just under seven hectares. Kanowna took just 10 weeks to construct.

Meralli’s David Mailler described Kanowna as “ingeniously simple,” compared to the average “costly and complex” large-scale solar project. “Meralli was born out of sheer bloody mindedness, but with all our projects being entirely privately funded, we’ve proved the economics work,” he said. “We’re all about the triple bottom line: economics, social and environment.”

The company’s previous projects include 4.6 MW Chillamurra,  11 MW Dunblane and 3.8 MW Darreton solar farms.