Innovative agreement sees QLD water help carry solar to the grid

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An innovative network support agreement will see Stanwell’s Kareeya Hydro Power Station support a 100MW stage of the North Queensland solar project. The network support services provided by Kareeya will strengthen the grid in such a way as to enable Haughton Solar Farm to generate in compliance with generator performance standards. 

When all stages are completed, the Haughton Solar Farm is expected to have a generating capacity of up to 500 MW. 

 Stanwell CEO Richard Van Breda said the agreement could set the scene for more renewable energy projects to connect to the grid and provide clean and green energy to Queensland. 

“Our agreement with Pacific Hydro sees Kareeya Hydro Power Station in North Queensland providing Haughton Solar Farm the necessary network support to manage the operational obligations it faces to get up and running,” continued Van Breda, “the arrangement provides stability to the project and allows Haughton Solar Farm to generate in a region which is subject to lower system strength levels.” 

Pacific Hydro CEO Rachel Watson seconded Van Breda’s comments, noting that the innovation in grid support would provide many benefits to ensure the project’s ongoing success.  

“The agreement with Stanwell will make it easier for the solar farm to operate, which in turn improves the commerciality of the project,” said Watson, “the agreement with Stanwell really is a win-win. It improves the commerciality of the solar farm and minimises energy system constraints. It’s also exciting we can achieve these benefits by harnessing the water and the sun.”  

The Haughton Solar Farm, now in its 2nd stage, was previously delayed due to the collapse of RCR Tomlinson (which had held the 100 MW Stage 1 contract). After RCR Tomlinson’s collapse, Pacific Hydro secured the Haughton Solar Farm construction site and began taking steps to support construction and completion, this agreement with Stanwell being another significant step in the right direction. 

This agreement is an example of how electricity companies themselves can meet renewable generators in the middle. As Watson said, it really is a win-win, for not only does the renewable generator receive assistance in moving its solar electricity to the grid, but electricity generators already established in the grid are able to expand their renewable portfolios for the inevitable energy transition. 

“Stanwell is exploring opportunities to evolve and renew our energy generator portfolio in response to the market and to support the Queensland Government’s 50% renewable energy target,” Van Breda said. 

The ownership of Kareeya Power Station will transfer to CleanCO Queensland from 31 October 2019.