Australian renewables developer Windlab is confident the $160 million (USD 106 million) Kennedy Energy Park (KEP), which combines 43 MW of wind, 15 MW of solar, and a 2 MW/4 MWh battery, will commence full commercial operations in early 2023 with the project currently progressing through the final testing and commissioning phase.
Windlab Operations General Manager Mark Pickering told pv magazine Australia that KEP, near Hughenden in central north Queensland, is now fully operational and the initial hold-point tests, 10 MW and 25 MW, have been completed with the facility currently authorised to operate at 25 MW, exporting 80% of the energy that the facility is expected to produce at full 50 MW capacity.
“KEP has one further hold point to complete, being HP3 at 50 MW, which is the rated connection capacity,” he said. “We are awaiting the go-ahead from AEMO and Energy Queensland to perform this test. We hope to receive permission before the end of this year,” he said.
The energy park was hailed as Australia’s first project on a major grid to combine wind, solar and battery technologies when it was completed in late 2018, but its commercial operation has been delayed due to complications in the connection process. The plant was eventually energised in August 2019 but didn’t secure its registration from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) until June 2021.
Pickering said the ongoing hold-ups relate to the finalisation of the electrical model rather than the design of the plant.
“AEMO and Energy Queensland require a complex set of scenarios to be modelled which has taken longer than expected,” he said.
A 50-50 joint venture between Windlab and Japan-based energy company Eurus Energy, KEP is now expected to commence full commercial operations in early 2023.
The project is underpinned by a 10-year power purchase agreement with Queensland state-owned generator CS Energy which includes 100% of the output of KEP.
The update on KEP comes just days after Windlab announced it would team with Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) to develop the North Queensland Super Hub in the Hughenden region. The goal is to unlock more than 10 GW of wind and solar energy within the next 10 years to support the industrial-scale production of green hydrogen.
Windlab Chief Executive John Martin said the projects are big steps towards the company realising its ambition to deliver 20% of Australia’s new green energy generation over the next 10 years.
“The enormous renewable energy potential of Hughenden and the Flinders Shire means this region is a strategically critical part of our development strategy,” he said.