Hydrogen battery startup Lavo has selected Sungrow as its inverter and battery technology partner for a series of ~5 MW solar farms in Victoria. The partnership will see Sungrow will provide its inverters as well as its new liquid-cooled PowerTitan energy storage system to build a total of 176 MWh of DC coupled systems.
The installations retrofitting Sungrow’s inverters and batteries are expected to be completed before the end of the year, with the solar farms themselves already operational.
The Ginan Solar Portfolio, to which the 16 Victorian solar farms belong, has been developed by Providence Asset Group, a cofounder of Lavo. The Lavo startup was established in 2020 to commercialise technology which uses hydrides to store hydrogen in metal alloys, originally developed by the University of New South Wales.
Ginan Solar Portfolio
The Victorian portfolio includes ~5 MW solar farms at Katamatite, Numurkah, Echuca and Stanhope while the development pipeline includes solar projects at Manilla, South Tamworth, Guyra and Gunnedah in New South Wales, taking the total portfolio to almost 40 ~5 MW solar farms across both states.
It is believed Sungrow will also be involved in the projects under development in NSW, though details of this arrangement have not been released.
Sungrow said its DC coupled storage solution, which will feature its new PowerTitan battery as the core device, requires only one inverter to complete the project, reduces efficiency losses and therefore significantly lowers project costs.
“Sungrow is the only supplier who can provide a DC-coupled storage solution in Australia, which is an unparalleled advantage we appreciate,” Alan Yu, Lavo’s CEO said.
He added that Lavo planned to “expand” its cooperation with Sungrow to supply more renewable energy projects in future, perhaps hinting at the NSW pipeline. It appears there is no clear distinction between the tightly enmeshed Providence Asset Group and Lavo in terms of the Ginan pipeline’s developers.
Hydrogen and lithium battery storage prospects
Earlier this year, Australian investment manager Infrastructure Capital Group moved into the solar sector by acquiring a major stake in the Ginan portfolio. It has committed $100 million in the pipeline, with the option to significantly scale the investment further to include co-located batteries and hydrogen, pv magazine Australia reported at the time.
The lithium battery installations are now, obviously, coming to fruition, and Lavo has previously said it hopes to also install its hydrogen battery solutions at the solar farms dotted across regional Victoria and NSW. In fact, the company last year finalised a $33 million project financing agreement with the Commonwealth Bank to do so.
The solar portfolio is not only interesting because of the plans to deploy Lavo’s hybrid hydrogen batteries but also because of their mid-scale size.
Each of the 16 sites consists of a ~5 MW distribution-connected solar plant with the smaller scale employed to accelerate the speed of approval (projects around the 5 MW mark are significantly easier to connect to the grid than larger solar farms), construction, and connection. The mid-scale size also affords greater flexibility in deploying various types of energy storage.
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