Thermal storage company approved to build renewable and agriculture precinct in central NSW

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The Lake Sustainable Energy Precinct will serve as something of a pilot, generating renewable energy to power sustainable agriculture operations, according to the company.

Few details of the precinct plan have been released, with Graphite Energy simply noting the masterplan includes 5 MW of solar to be combined with “multiple forms of integrated energy storage,” including batteries, thermal energy storage for heating, cooling and drying, and hydrogen for diesel substitution.

Graphite Energy has had relatively little coverage until now, but according to the company it has developed a proprietary thermal energy storage system for the decarbonisation of industrial and manufacturing operations.

Graphite Energy already has a facility at Lake Cargelligo, which sits almost in the centre of NSW between Dubbo and Griffith. The precinct will expand on this existing facility and is to be built in stages, the first of which is expected to commence in late 2023 with completion earmarked for mid-2024.

Considering the scope of the precinct’s plans, both the budget and construction timeframe appear very modest – but it is worth noting the announcement includes no information on what each construction stage will entail.

The company did add that the new Lake Cargelligo facility will also include a manufacturing research facility.

All in all, the Lake Sustainable Energy Precinct is aiming to bring together the agricultural and renewable energy industries – two vital sectors which are increasingly vying for land. “The project aims to demonstrate how renewable energy and agriculture can coexist, using industry advancements to enable renewable energy sources without forgoing farmland,” the company’s announcement says.

The precinct will generate renewable energy to power sustainable agriculture operations, including: 

·          agrivoltaics – protected cropping operation underneath and between the solar panels

·          greenhouse – protected cropping for the production of vegetables and leafy greens

·          fish farm – tank-based aquaculture system to produce fresh fish

The company hopes the precinct will serve as “an Australian-first pilot model that can be scaled and replicated throughout Australia and the rest of the world.”

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