The Normanton Solar Farm project will involve the construction of the 5MW DC Normanton Solar Farm in North-West Queensland.
The Normanton region’s power is supplied from networks on long lines, which can cause voltage fluctuation and electrical losses.
Solar PV energy is being explored as a way to address network challenges in fringe-of-grid locations in regional Australia, which are typically more susceptible to power outages and supply constraints compared to urban areas.
The Normanton Solar Farm project will provide a valuable demonstration of how renewable energy can benefit regional networks. A network impact plan will guide assessment of the value of these benefits and their transferability to other regions throughout Australia.
Practical evidence of the benefits of augmenting supply with locally generated renewable energy will be discovered by working closely with the local energy distributor Ergon Energy. This information will be provided to network operators and state and territory governments across Australia. Data from the project will be publicly reported via an online portal.
The project will also explore how solar plants could gain extra revenue through network benefits support payments.
Report: Lessons from the fringes: Australian Fringe-of-Grid Projects in ARENA’s portfolio
Fringe-of-grid areas of Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM) and South West Interconnected System (SWIS) are parts of the grid that are remote, far from the main load and population centres along the country’s coastline.
Normanton Solar Farm will provide generation of solar energy closer to the end user to help improve network stability.
The project will provide valuable knowledge regarding the challenges in developing solar PV in remote, tropical regions of Australia. As more solar energy is deployed, and the industry become more experienced and efficient in delivery, solar energy becomes increasingly competitive against other technology sources.
The results of this project will also enable an assessment of the value of broader regulatory change to support future projects and the business case for using renewables as an alternative to upgrading network infrastructure. This will drive the growth of renewable power generation across regional Australia, particularly in constrained, fringe of grid environments.