The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) hopes that the construction of a solar farm next to a wind farm near Canberra will pave the way for a new generation of hybrid power plants in the country.

Sian Crampsie

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) hopes that the construction of a solar farm next to a wind farm near Canberra will pave the way for a new generation of hybrid power plants in the country.

ARENA has agreed to provide A$9.9 million of support for the construction of a 10 MW photovoltaic (PV) facility next to the existing Gullen Range wind farm, which is jointly owned by Beijing and Jingneng Clean Energy and Goldwind Capital Australia. It believes that wind farm operators across the country would benefit from adding solar to their sites, saving money on grid connection, approvals and site development costs.

“Co-location provides more continuous energy generation, as wind farms tend to generate more energy overnight whilst solar only generates during the day,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht. “The potential co-location savings for the Gullen Range solar farm could be as high as A$6 million, representing a 20 per cent drop in total project cost.”

A recent study supported by ARENA found that there is an estimated 1000 MW of potential opportunities to add solar PV alongside existing wind farms in Australia.

“This is the first project of its type in Australia, so the lessons learned will be invaluable,” said Frischknecht. “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.”

The project is scheduled for completion in July 2017.