Desert Knowledge solar centre adds large-scale battery


A 300 kW/358 kWh mtu EnergyPack battery energy storage systems sourced from UK-based manufacturer Rolls-Royce Power Systems is to be installed at the Desert Knowledge Australia (DKA) Solar Centre near Alice Springs in a move which will transform the solar demonstration facility into a microgrid.

The battery acquisition is part of the Alice Springs Future Grid project, an initiative looking to iden­ti­fy and over­come bar­ri­ers to fur­ther renew­able ener­gy pen­e­tra­tion in the Alice Springs power system with a view to the town reaching 50% renewables by 2030.

The DKA Solar Centre is a solar panel testing, demonstration and research facility with datasets spanning more than 10 years of operation. The facility incorporates dozens of arrays of solar panels from various manufacturers with electricity generated by the various systems helping to power the precinct’s operations.

The solar arrays will now be complemented by a 300kW/358kWh lithium-ion battery system supplied via Penske Australia.

The containerised battery will store electricity generated by the DKA Solar Centre which can then be released back into the network as required. It will also support key operations at the Desert Knowledge Precinct when the precinct is disconnected from the grid and also provide grid support functions.

Future Grid project director Lyndon Frearson, from Alice Springs engineering firm Ekistica which is delivering the microgrid trial. said the initiative will help the team demonstrate how a commercial microgrid at a multi-tenanted site can operate when connected to, and “islanded” from, the main grid.

“We have been demonstrating solar technology from all over the world since 2008 at this site,” he said. “Now we get to explore the possibilities offered by complementing that existing technology with battery capability.”

Frearson said the acquisition of the BESS represents the final major equipment procurement effort for the Future Grid project which has also installed cloud cameras to aid solar forecasting, and is currently creating the Northern Territory’s first virtual power plant.

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