The Australian Renewable Energy Agency is providing $9.9 million support for New Gullen Range Wind Farm to develop and construct a 10MW solar PV plant.

A $26 million project will be built adjacent to the wind farm, allowing for a reduction in energy costs.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said solar and wind were complementary sources of renewable energy that produced power at different times of the day and year.

“Co-location provides more continuous energy generation, as wind farms tend to generate more energy overnight whilst solar only generates during the day,” Frischknecht says.

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

Wind farm owners across Australia could benefit from adding solar plants to their existing sites, he says. “Developers can save money on grid connection, approvals and site development costs by co-locating wind and solar plants, whilst also reducing environmental impacts.”

Co-location savings for the Gullen Range Solar Farm are estimated by the wind farm operator to be as high as $6 million, representing a 20 per cent drop in total project cost.

“There is huge potential to adopt this approach at other wind farms. An ARENA-supported study found there’s an estimated 1000MW of potential opportunities to add solar PV alongside existing wind farms – enough to power 700,000 homes,” Frischknecht says.

Co-location may prove to be the cheapest way to construct large-scale solar, he says.

“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.”

Completion is expected in July 2017.