Regardless of the risk in the large-scale solar industry the sector is still attracting interest from around the world. BSR EPC, the UK’s leading large-scale solar contractor, is the latest engineering, procurement and construction to enter the market, with approval for a 33MW solar and storage facility in Katherine, Northern Territory.
The project was developed by a joint venture between Epuron, a leading Australian renewable energy specialist, and Island Green Power, a UK-based renewable energy developer. The project has been bought by Italian energy giant Eni.
A 6MW battery energy storage system was added during project design to provide stability to the Northern Territory’s 200MW grid.
“Australia felt like a logical international move for BSR EPC. The expansion of the market with more utility scale projects coming online over the past few years, with plenty of years growth, it felt like a logical market to enter,” BSR EPC head of EPC Tim Humpage told EcoGeneration.
A power purchase agreement has been agreed between project owner Eni and Jacana, and Humpage says BSR is already looking at the eastern states. “We are in early discussions and are hoping to announce in the near future.”
Humpage says BSR EPC is entering the market with its eyes open, well aware of expensive delays at other projects caused by problems with connection approvals and the demands of complex project modelling.
“We are a renewables specific EPC, so have a history and culture within the sector and the methodology for design, construction and commissioning of renewable energy plants, which is, at times, different to methodologies used in the wider construction market,” he says.
“We come to Australia with our track record of design, build and commissioning across 48 previous power plants, but are not underestimating the risks and challenges associated with Australian build and commissioning.”
BSR EPC has built 550MW of solar and energy storage projects in the UK, including the UK’s four largest solar parks and one of the largest batteries.
The Katherine project integrates energy storage within the solar array. The battery will use smart technology to smooth fluctuations in generation (ramp-rate control) and manage energy supply according to local demand (frequency response), reducing strain on the grid. Smoothing and output forecasting will also be achieved via the installation of cloud coverage predicting technology.
Construction will start on the Katherine facility in March.
Together, Epuron and Island Green Power have developed large-scale solar projects in Australia with over 230MW of capacity now under construction.