Risen Energy’s Merredin Solar Farm readies to join the grid

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After announcing recently that its 121 MW Yarranlea Solar Farm in Queensland has connected to the grid for its staging procedures, Risen Energy said its second Australian project, the 132 MW Merredin Solar Farm in Western Australia (WA), is getting ready for the first back energization to start the commissioning process.

After all functionality checks are carried out, the Merredin Solar Farm will start exporting into the grid in four stages – Stage 1 will be at 20% capacity, Stage 2 will be at 50% capacity, Stage 3 will be at 80% capacity and Stage 4 at 100% capacity. This will happen over a pre-determined time as controlled by the network service provider, Western Power. The project is slated to commence power sales in Q2 2020.

On site, staff and contractors are carrying out rectification and adjustment works, while Risen is demobilizing the temporary construction site offices and amenities. The Chinese PV module manufacturer says that due to the Covid-19 situation, it has adapted its operations and business and has taken extra care to ensure a safe and healthy work environment for its employees and external stakeholders.

“As owners of the Merredin Solar Farm project, Risen Energy (Australia) is progressing the project from detailed engineering design, through construction, commissioning and ultimately the operations,” said Eric Lee, General Manager Risen Energy (Australia). “We are using our latest PV panel technology to allow it to supply power to the grid. Ultimately, integrated battery storage will be incorporated in the solar farm to provide continuous power during periods of peak demand.”

The Merredin Solar Farm is located on 460 hectares of former farming and grazing country adjacent to the 220 kV Western Power Merredin Terminal. The project features 354,452 solar PV panels and will have an expected output of 274 GWh of electricity annually, approximately enough to power 42,000 Western Australian homes. The project has created over 400 jobs in the construction phase and will require two to five full-time workers to maintain the installation.

Going merchant backed by batteries 

Risen Energy will initially go merchant on the Merredin Solar Farm – which, at least for a while, will be the largest solar project in Western Australia. It will reportedly try for a power purchase agreement (PPA) further down the line. The developer’s other project in Australia – the $160 million Yarranlea Solar Farm in Queensland – will also operate on a merchant basis. This project has added an advanced energy storage system developed by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) – a hybrid of lithium batteries and hydrogen fuel cells, with DC loss detection technology – to tackle the duck curve.

The hybrid energy storage system will use artificial intelligence to manage and smooth out the intermittency of renewable energy, balance out supply and demand, and allow the use of excess renewable energy where and when needed. Once the trials are complete, a 35-40 MW battery will be installed at the Yarranlea Solar Farm in the Darling Downs region, within three years of the plant being commissioned.

The Merredin and Yarranlea solar farms are part of the Chinese company’s ambitious plans to acquire over 2 GW of projects in Australia. “We will be acquiring projects that are shovel ready, projects that are looking for financial and/or EPC partner, projects that are looking for a co-developer,” John Zhong, Project Development & Investment Director, Risen Energy Australia, said last year.