Lyon Solar to build world’s biggest solar and battery storage plant with or without tender

One of the companies that said it was better placed than Tesla to deliver a 100MW battery storage system for South Australia has announced it is going ahead with what will be the world’s largest solar and battery plant, regardless of the outcome of the government’s tender for a battery system.

Lyon Solar on Thursday announced a 330-megawatt large-scale solar PV plant to be built in South Australia’s Riverland district, which will include a 100MW battery.

Lyon partner David Green said the 3.4 million solar panels would make the project Australia’s largest solar farm.

Lyon will team with Downer EDI on the deal and it is understood private equity firm Blackstone will also back the project through hedge fund Magnetar Capital.

The project is due for completion by the end of the year, in time to help manage the summer peak, and joins Lyon’s already announced Kingfisher Solar Storage project near Roxby Downs, a 120MW solar project with a 100MW system due for completion by June 2018.

“Our projects are 100 per cent equity financed, technology and other commercial arrangements are in place, network capacity analysis and discussions with network owners are well advanced, and development consultation and approvals have commenced,” Mr Green said.

He said the outcome of the SA battery tender would not determine whether the projects would go ahead, but could influence the final battery storage configuration “in terms of the balance between optimising grid security and the capture of trading revenue”.

A spokesman told The Fifth Estate that under current market rules it made more financial sense to configure a battery system to focus on trading energy, whereas the tender from the South Australian government was geared more towards system security.

Practically speaking, whether the company wins the tender or not could affect the final capacity of the battery system, currently set at 400 megawatt-hours.

Mr Green said energy consumers in SA were set to benefit from the tender, for which expressions of interest close tomorrow.

“The South Australian government’s leadership on large-scale battery storage has come together with technology cost reductions and international financial interest to provide a timely solution to some of the challenges in the state’s electricity system,” he said.

“Large-scale renewables and large-scale battery technology will play a central role in keeping our electricity system stable, reducing prices, and reducing emissions. Right now, South Australia is at the forefront of an irrepressible global energy transition.”

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