Newstead powers towards 100% renewables with 3 MW solar farm

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Melbourne-based energy retailer Flow Power said the Newstead Energy Project being developed in regional Victoria is progressing towards operational status with the 3 MW solar farm having achieved mechanical completion.

The project, comprising 4,320 solar panels spread across a 6.2-hectare site about 3 kilometres from Newstead, 140 kilometres northwest of Melbourne, will also include a 5 MWh battery energy storage system that Flow Power said will include a “Victorian-first” DC-coupled system.

The Newstead solar farm, developed by Flow Power in collaboration with local community group Renewable Newstead, will feed electricity into the grid and then to Newstead homes and businesses. It’s estimated that once operational the PV power plant will generate enough clean energy for up to 1,600 homes, about three times Newstead’s current requirements.

Renewable Newstead committee member Gen Barlow welcomed the latest construction milestone, saying there’ll be champagne flowing at the news.

“It’s a very exciting time and there’ll be some very happy people in Newstead,” she said. “We were out this morning with Flow Power and government reps and it’s exciting to see the very modern tracker system and while the battery is yet to come, it’s very pleasing we’ve got to this stage.”

Flow Power said work has already commenced to prepare the foundations for inverters, switchgear, and battery containers which are expected to arrive on site in the coming weeks.

“We’re hoping that by the middle of the year, or at the very latest the third quarter, there’ll be connection and some generation, though the battery is yet to be installed,” Barlow said.

Flow Power, which will own and operate the solar farm and retail the electricity it generates, said excess energy will be stored in the DC-coupled battery and traded into the grid to maximise returns.

The Newstead Energy Project is Flow Power’s seventh clean energy project since 2021, and once fully operational will boost its renewable portfolio to more than 400 MW.

For Renewable Newstead, the project – first conceived in 2008 – is part of the group’s ambition to achieve 100% renewable energy.

The collaboration with Flow Power, meant the project did not require initial community up-front investment, and the model allows for any Newstead business and household to purchase renewable energy from the solar farm by simply switching to the retailer.

“We are finalising the retail offer and how Flow Power will retail to our community and some of us have been participating in a retail trial to see how it works and we’ve been in constant dialogue with Flow Power,” Barlow said.

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