AGL delivers solar-powered microgrid for farming operation


Australian electricity generating and retailing giant AGL Energy said the microgrid, comprising a 4.8 MW solar farm and a 4.2 MWh battery energy storage system, will slash the use of diesel fuel generators at Australian Farming Services’ (AFS) Cadell Orchards in the New South Wales (NSW) Riverina region.

At the core of the renewable energy system, spread across a five-hectare block at the commercial almond farm near Balranald in southwest NSW, is the PowerCache battery energy storage system provided by Australian manufacturer Powertec.

The Victorian company said the system will form a utility-quality grid, providing fault current and instant operating reserves while smoothing and storing intermittent solar energy.

Controlled as a microgrid by more than 20 of the company’s PaDECS edgecontrollers, the network can, among various other functions, autonomously reconfigure to adapt to operational scenarios and achieve high fault tolerance.

The system will provide 5.2 GWh of renewable energy to the site, reducing the horticultural operation’s reliance on diesel-fuelled generators and cutting the orchard’s carbon emissions by up to 4,700 tonnes each year.

AFS Chief Executive Officer David Armstrong said the 1,690-hectare property is not connected to the grid, instead relying on electric pumps that have until now been powered by diesel generators.

“We manage more than 4,400 hectares and nearly 1.5 million trees in some of Australia’s most productive horticultural regions,” he said.

“Working with AGL, we’ll be able to generate clean and renewable solar power which will cut our emissions, reduce our reliance on diesel fuel by 85% and deliver up to 40% energy cost savings each year.”

“Our orchard will also benefit from energy price certainty and better energy resilience and reliability.”

AGL will own and operate the microgrid under a long-term power purchase agreement.

The Cadell microgrid is one of three renewable energy power systems that AGL is to install at AFS’ farming enterprises in the Riverina.

In addition to the Cadell microgrid, AGL is developing a 6.5 MW solar array and 5.1 MWh battery energy storage system at the nearby Canally Almond Orchard. The gen-tailer is also designing a third microgrid to be installed at AFS’s Murray Downs Processing Plant.

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