Edify plans solar and storage complex near Queensland coal plant

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Edify Energy is seeking approval under the federal government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act to build the Callide Solar Power Station Project that is to incorporate a 200 MW solar farm and a 200 MW / 800 MWh battery energy storage system (BESS).

The proposed project, which was granted development approval by the Banana Shire Council in October 2023, is being developed at a 412-hectare site located within the Callide phase of the planned Central Queensland Renewable Energy Zone (REZ), one of 12 coordinated energy zones proposed by the state government as it aims to add 22 GW of renewable capacity by 2035.

The project site is about seven kilometres northeast of Biloela in central Queensland and next to the existing Callide power station so it can “maximise its access” to the grid.

In its application for approval under the federal government’s EPBC Act, Sydney-based Edify said the location of the solar-storage project will allow for efficient integration with the National Electricity Market (NEM), without the need for additional extensive infrastructure.

“The project area is located next to the Callide Power Station and therefore the solar and energy storage facility will be able to maximise its access to the grid and its ability to export renewable energy into the power system,” the company said.

“The proposed BESS component will store excess energy generated by the solar farm and support the grid by providing power to the grid in peak periods of demand or when there is a lack of energy generation.”

The project plan indicates the Callide solar farm will feature panels mounted on single axis trackers while the battery system will consist of sealed lithium-ion batteries contained in cabinets.

Edify said the project will also include the co-location of grazing activities with the solar facility.

The site is currently used for dryland cropping but Edify said once the solar facility is constructed, it plans to run sheep on the site with the tracker system suitable for the grazing proposed and able to provide opportunities to shade livestock.

The developer said up to 49 sheep will be introduced to the site initially and if this is successful, the size of the herd will gradually increase to up to 1,000 head.

Edify said the co-location of sheep grazing on site will maintain an ongoing agricultural use of the land and support greater socio-economic outcomes for the region.

“The combination of these land uses will facilitate employment through the construction of the solar farm and additional employment through the ongoing use of the site for sheep grazing,” the company said, noting that the benefits include higher growth rates and fertility for the sheep, soil improvement created by shading effects of the panels to the ground below, and a reduction of fire risk through controlled grazing.

The Callide Solar Power Station Project is the second project being developed by Edify in the central Queensland region. It is also progressing plans to build the 600 MW Smoky Creek Solar Farm about 40 kilometres north of Biloela.

The projects are part of a growing portfolio that includes the 150 MW / 300 MWh Riverina and Darlington Point Energy Storage System in New South Wales and it has been identified by the federal government to lead the development of a green hydrogen hub near Townsville in northern Queensland.

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