Jacana banks on batteries to smooth solar connection process


Energy retailer Jacana Energy is seeking expressions of interest (EOI) from proponents to build, own and operate up to 100 MW of new large-scale solar co-located with grid-forming battery energy storage systems across three separate projects to be connected to the Darwin-Katherine grid.

Jacana Executive Manager, Commercial, Rebecca Tilbrook told an industry briefing that the addition of battery energy storage is necessary to smooth out intermittent output of solar energy and is expected to help alleviate the connection issues that have beset other large-scale solar farms built in the Territory in recent years.

Four solar farms with a combined generation capacity of almost 60 MW have been built in the NT in the past few years but are yet to commence full operations as the developers work to satisfy generator performance standards outlined by the Territory government-owned Power and Water Corporation.

Tilbrook said Jacana, the Territory’s largest energy retailer, is planning to “force” more renewables into the grid but “we want to do that in a way that supports stability.”

“We want it to be co-located with battery storage,” she said. “We believe that will help with that connection process.”

“The Darwin-Katherine Interconnected System is an isolated, relatively small system. We’ve created a technical scope which we believe will help achieve a more streamlined development and connection approach.”

Tilbrook said the EOI is the first step to procuring more large-scale solar closer to Darwin with the new solar farms and battery energy storage systems expected to be “connected and delivering energy by 2027.”

The successful proponents will be required to build, own and operate the new solar generation and firming assets with Jacana to ink an offtake agreement for the supply of electricity.

The project is expected contribute as much as 15% towards the NT government’s renewable energy target of 50% by 2030.

Jacana Chief Executive Officer Louisa Kinnear said the non-binding EOI process will allow the retailer to validate project feasibility and determine what the market appetite is to deliver large-scale solar with storage in the Territory.

“There has already been significant interest in the EOI from the renewables industry and we are looking forward to the proposals put forward to us over the coming weeks,” she said.

Submissions for the EOI process will close on 26 September 2023.

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