Green Light For 1.5GW Solar + 500MW Battery Storage Project In Queensland

Sunshine Energy solar + battery project

A development application for a 1,500MW solar farm boasting 500MW of battery storage1 has been given the go-ahead by Queensland’s Somerset Council.

The project, which we first mentioned back in May, will be situated on a site of approximately 5000 acres located between Harlin and Kilcoy in south-east Queensland. The site has been acquired by project developer Sunshine Energy.

Council says the development application was carefully reviewed.

“This application has been referred to various government departments and agencies for their input and Council approved the development in line with our planning scheme which allows for such developments in rural areas,” said Somerset Mayor Graeme Lehmann.

A number of additional conditions have been added by Council, such as trees to be planted along the fenceline where the solar farm can be seen from the D’Aguilar Highway, and offsets have been increased. The developer will also need to review glare conditions a year after the project has been operating and take remedial action if necessary. Additionally, the installation of solar panels will not be permitted in the flood plain area of the site.

Jobs Bonanza

Construction of the massive solar power facility is expected to start in mid-2019 and will be completed in two stages. Initial site preparation will take approximately 6-8 months and construction 16-24 months.

More than 1,000 jobs relating to logistics and construction will be created, with 30-60 permanent jobs after completion for ongoing operations and maintenance. The population of Somerset Shire is approximately 24,600, so the project could be a major employer of locals.

Millions Of Solar Panels

Sunshine Energy says the clean power station will generate 2,259 GWh of electricity annually; enough to meet the needs of the equivalent of 300,000 households while avoiding 2,100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per annum.

So, how many solar panels will the facility have? If the modules are 300W each, that would require 5 million of them. No doubt major solar panel manufacturers will be/have been climbing over each other to supply this project.

The solar farm may grow to be even larger. The company states there’s wiggle room to increase capacity to 2GW within 36 months – but perhaps that option may be off the table now with the flood plain out of bounds and other limitations.

Battery Storage

As for the battery aspect, the company’s website makes reference to an energy storage solution called SEA-Power (SEAP), which appears to be Sunshine Energy’s own patented system. The company says each SEAP unit consists of 4MW of lithium-ion battery storage, a battery management system (BMS), fire suppression equipment, thermal management system, switchgear and other components; all of which are housed in a 40-foot (~12m) shipping container. That’s a lot of storage crammed into such a space.

While this project will keep the company busy, Sunshine Energy is also on the prowl for other potential sites. It’s inviting landowners with 500 or more continuous acres of undeveloped, generally flat land that’s not home to endangered species or hosts wetlands to contact the firm.

Footnotes

  1. MWh info not available at time of publishing
About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Do you mean MWh?

  2. Upgrading from 1500Mw to 2 GW… think you may have a typo.

    • And this is why you don’t text, drive heavy machinery, do simple math, post on the internet and look after babies while tired…. what an embarrassing error. Sorry folks.

  3. Ronald Brakels says

    This project will be able to supply more power at night than the Tarong North coal power station. Depending on its PV to inverter ratio and transmission capacity it may be able to supply more power in the day than any existing Queensland power station.

  4. Stephen Hoult says

    Remember though that this battery has a limited capacity of 500MW hours. This compares to your example of Tarong that has capacity over say 12 night time hours of over 17,000MW hours. This is why it is so expensive and difficult to balance the intermittent nature of renewable generation.

    • Ronald Brakels says

      The proposed battery can supply 500 megawatts of power. Tarong power station (when fully functional) can supply 1,400 megawatts of power.

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