Construction will soon be underway on a gigantic solar farm in South Australia that’s set to be the biggest of its kind in the world – thanks to 3.4 million solar panels and 1.1 million individual batteries.
The project is expected to be completed by the end of the year, at which point the huge plant should outdo all other solar farms in terms of overall battery capacity – although other solar facilities are larger in terms of land area.
Overall capacity will be 330 megawatts (MW) of power, enough to keep the lights on in tens of thousands of homes, with at least 100 MW of storage capacity for holding energy, according to the site’s developer, the Lyon Group.
“Projects of this sort, renewable energy projects, represent the future,” South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill told reporters after the announcement of the solar farm last week.
The facility will then be able to provide roughly 330 MW power for just over 18 minutes, or 100 MegaWatts of power for 1 hour – handy bursts of electricity that will help get the state through any future blackouts.
The use of renewable energy in South Australia is a much-debated issue right now locally, with recent blackouts prompting new discussions over how the area should meet its energy needs in the years ahead.
Even Elon Musk has offered to lend a hand, saying that Tesla’s Powerwall 2 batteries could fix the reliability problems in a mere 100 days.
The company’s batteries are already storing energy for a huge number of communities across the globe; when the Sun sets or the winds drop, the energy stored in the batteries gets released.
The good news is that South Australia has an abundance of wind and sunshine that can be tapped to provide energy – the state is currently the country’s biggest user of renewable energy – but the supply isn’t constant all year round.
That’s where the new facility now being built in South Australia comes in.
“At times of need, the battery could ensure the entire state does not face outages,” Lyon Group partner David Green told The Advertiser last year, when the plans were proposed.
The South Australian government says the new project is one of several in the pipeline designed to help it hit its target of doubling renewable energy output by 2020.
“The combination of the solar and the battery will significantly enhance the capacity available in the South Australian market,” says Green.
“We see the inevitability of the need to have large-scale solar and integrated batteries as part of any move to decarbonise.”
We’re looking forward to seeing this plant and others like it take shape. With solar power becoming cheaper all around the world, there’s no better time to start storing all that free, natural energy – and to lessen our reliance on fossil fuels while we still can.
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the savage burn inflicted by Jay Weatherall on Australian Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg at a press conference last month, following the statewide blackout.