The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has granted $9.9m in funding for the development of a wind-solar hybrid project near Canberra.

The $26m project involves construction of 10MW solar photovoltaic (PV) adjacent to the existing Gullen Range wind farm near Canberra, to provide more reliable and cheaper renewable energy.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said: “Co-location provides more continuous energy generation, as wind farms tend to generate more energy overnight whilst solar only generates during the day.

“Gullen Wind Farm generates more power in winter and the new solar farm will generate more in summer.”

The project is being developed by Gullen Range Wind Farm (NGRWF), which is owned by Beijing and Jingneng Clean Energy with 75% stake and Goldwind Capital Australia with 25%.

Goldwind was responsible for obtaining a development approval while the project will be constructed, owned and operated by NGRWF.

According to NGRWF estimates, the development of the solar farm on the same location as the wind farm would save 20% of the project cost.

Frischknecht said that the co-location is the cheapest way to construct large-scale solar while allowing its development costs to fall faster.

“This is the first project of its type in Australia, so the lessons learned will be invaluable. It has the potential to provide a blueprint for future projects and cement industry confidence in the approach.

“It could also unlock new markets for medium-scale solar PV projects, because scale isn’t as important for competitiveness when plants are co-located.”

According to recent ARENA-supported study, an estimated 1000MW of solar PV can be added alongside the existing wind farms to meet the power needs of 700,000 homes.

Frischknecht added: “We expect this to more than double by 2020 in line with Australia’s renewable energy target.”

The project is scheduled to be completed in July 2017.