Powerlink has signed an agreement to deliver system strength support to Neoen’s 157MW Kaban Green Power Hub, via the installation of a synchronous condenser.

The agreement will make Powerlink Queensland the first transmission company in Australia to deliver system strength services, laying the foundation for more renewable energy projects in Queensland.

Under the new plan, Powerlink will install a synchronous condenser large enough to support Neoen’s project in Far North Queensland, as well as other new renewable generation projects.

Powerlink Chief Executive, Paul Simshauser, said the ‘system strength as a service’ model was an innovative way to address one of the most significant issues facing transmission networks in Australia.

“Far North Queensland has some of the best renewable resources in Australia,” Mr Simshauser said. 

“By providing new system strength support, Powerlink is laying the foundation for potentially hundreds of additional megawatts of clean energy in the state’s north.

“Currently there are parts of our network, like North Queensland, where the inherent system strength has been significantly reduced.

“Typically that means new projects have to bring their own system strength support which adds significant costs.

“Rather than have each project bring their own synchronous condenser that only meets their system strength requirements, Powerlink will install a larger synchronous condenser and then on-sell system strength to multiple projects.

“The model significantly reduces costs for individual projects as we can take advantage of economies of scale.

“It will allow us to continue to connect large-scale renewable projects throughout Queensland while still ensuring the security of the transmission network.

“Powerlink is launching this model in Far North Queensland, but we believe it can potentially be rolled out across the state helping to achieve the Queensland Government’s 50 per cent renewable energy target.”

Synchronous condensers are large machines – typically installed in substations – that provide system strength support for asynchronous generators like solar and wind farms.

Neoen will build the $380 million Kaban Green Power Hub near the town of Ravenshoe, 80km south-west of Cairns.

Early works are set to begin by the end of 2020, with the government-owned generator CleanCo agreeing to buy 110MW of the wind farm’s output.

Energy Minister, Dr Anthony Lynham, said, “Queensland has an economic plan for post-COVID recovery and affordable, reliable energy supply underpins that plan.

“That plan includes supporting emerging industries like renewable energy because that supports jobs.

“This project is proceeding because the power purchase agreement with CleanCo has given Neoen certainty.”

Emergency Services Minister and Member for Barron River, Craig Crawford, welcomed the news about jobs and farm income.

“This 157MW wind farm will mean 150 construction jobs as well as revenue for local farmers hosting the turbines,” he said.

“I understand that Neoen has also been working hard with our local business community to ensure maximum opportunity for locals when early works start later this year.

“This is another great example of our publicly-owned energy businesses working for Queenslanders.”

Neoen Australia’s Managing Director, Louis de Sambucy, said Neoen was delighted to be working with CleanCo and Powerlink on their second Queensland project together.

“This agreement underscores our deepening involvement in the state’s clean energy transition, and we are proud to be supporting Queensland’s progress towards its ambitious target of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030,” Mr Sambucy said.

“We look forward to Kaban delivering an economic boost to Far North Queensland, supporting the region’s recovery from the impact of COVID-19.”

The project will also provide diversified revenue to local farmers hosting the turbines and will see Neoen establish an annual $50,000 Community Benefit Fund for local community-building initiatives over the duration of the project’s life.

CleanCo CEO, Dr Maia Schweizer, said CleanCo was proud to be involved in this new renewable energy project which will continue to improve electricity affordability for Queensland.

“As demonstrated by our recent agreements with BHP and Coles, large energy users in Queensland are increasingly looking to power their businesses with affordable renewable energy, which gives us the confidence to continue to support projects like Kaban,” Dr Schweizer said.

First generation is expected in 2023 and the project will generate enough energy to power about 95,900 Queensland homes.

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