The Barcaldine Remote Community Solar Farm (BRCSF) will be located in central Queensland within a fringe-of-grid area of super-premium solar irradiation. The project site is approximately 90 hectares and located near the Barcaldine Gas Power Plant.
- The project demonstrated how project developers can monetise network benefits and ultimately how solar farms can improve network efficiency and reliability at fringe of grid locations.
- It provided a tangible demonstration of line loss reduction when the solar farm came into operation, consistent with the premise of fringe-of-grid distributed generation. The continued stability of voltage levels on the network – and the consequent potential for fringe-of-grid solar to perform a network support function by regulating voltage levels – was confirmed.
- There was no detriment to grid operation during reverse power flows from the solar farm, and there was also limited operational impact on the existing Barcaldine gas plant.
There is a clear value proposition for large-scale solar in the Barcaldine area, which has an excellent solar resource.
Communities and businesses located on the fringes of electricity grids can be disadvantaged by the power reliability issues and outages caused by network constraints and a lack of infrastructure.
This is the case in the Queensland regional town of Barcaldine, which experiences voltage and frequency control issues as well as load management challenges.
BRCSF will feature around 79,000 solar photovoltaic (PV) modules with 20 MW AC (25 MW DC) capacity and single axis tracking. It will be the first large scale PV plant connecting into Ergon Energy’s network system and provide substantial network benefits.
The BRCSF project aims to demonstrate that solar PV technology with single axis tracking can produce high yield solar energy generation over an extended hourly duration and at high levels of operational availability to benefit fringe-of-grid network systems.
BRCSF will also provide a first-time opportunity to demonstrate integration of solar PV into the distribution network with an existing gas generator.
A new solar farm will help alleviate peak demand pressures and provide voltage control, helping to provide more reliable power supply to customers in the region.
The proposed solar PV plant will be the first of its kind installed in the Ergon Energy network system, and will help to meet projected energy demand growth from resource development in the Galilee Basin region.
A number of network benefits will also be produced during the construction and operation of the BRCSF. These include:
- generation and analysis of data on the quality of network power in the fringe-of-grid location both before and after the solar farm is installed
- voltage control and network support during peak demand periods
- reduction in network support and associated network capital expenditure
- contributing to voltage and frequency control management to support the network under the anticipated substantial system load growth.
Detailed knowledge sharing plan and network impact work plan have been developed to share operational detailed data and information about the network benefits provided.
It is often assumed that renewable energy makes electricity more unreliable. After all, the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow.