Neoen is experienced in financing, constructing and operating solar farms and in all areas only engages experienced contractors with a proven track record. The Culcairn Solar Farm will utilise premium quality solar panels and battery technology provided by leading manufacturers.
This is selected through a competitive process for each project. All components come with long warranty periods and performance guarantees.
Neoen has vast experience in the integration or largescale batteries into the Australian electricity network, owning and operating the De Grussa solar and battery project, in addition to the world’s largest battery – Hornsdale Power Reserve (or the SA big battery).
Large-scale battery deployment can remove price spikes in electricity prices to create a more stable market with reduced costs for consumers. The battery supports the variability of renewable generation by smoothing output, whilst absorbing excess capacity during low demand and release during peak occurrences.
Also, due to the fact the battery interfaces with the electricity network via a digital inverter, it can support the frequency in the event of a contingency with response times within 200 milliseconds of a system disturbance. This achieves balanced power and frequency, which is much faster and more accurate than alternative generation technologies that depend on mechanical turbines.
Finally, the battery can also provide an alternative solution than simply building more poles and wires. Transmission network augmentation can be deferred as this project has the ability to support New South Wales’ network congestions, thus creating a savings for the network owners, government and household consumers.
Neoen anticipates that construction will begin late 2020 at the earliest.
For a 100 MW power plant, an 8 to 12-month timeframe is typical, with a peak construction period of 2 to 3 months. A large project like Culcairn will take around 12 to 18 months to construct with a peak construction period of 4 to 8 months.
The main factors considered in deciding where to build a solar farm are proximity to a transmission network that can support additional capacity, irradiance (the rate at which solar energy falls onto a surface), topography (a relatively flat, cleared area) and the impact on local community.
Renewable energy projects are the cheapest sources of new energy generation. Solar energy projects produce energy at less than $50 per megawatt hour. The costs of other sources of generation are:
- Existing coal: approximately $40 per megawatt hour
- Existing combined gas-cycle generation: approximately $75 per megawatt hour
- New coal: approximately $130 per megawatt hour
Each project benefits the local community by creating employment. At Neoen’s Coleambally Solar Farm 300 people were employed locally during the construction phase and five are indirectly employed locally in full-time positions during operations. Neoen provides opportunities for local contractors to submit tenders and local jobseekers to seek employment by hosting a series of contractor sessions in the local area prior to any construction commencing.
In addition, Neoen establishes a community fund for each solar farm to support community group projects. Media reports also indicate that some drought-stricken farmers are turning to solar farm contracts as a way of earning additional income and future-proofing their enterprises against climate change.
Solar panels are deployed on more than 25% of Australian homes and have been deployed for the past 10 to 15 years on people’s homes in the world. No health issues have been associated with solar panels and the Culcairn Solar Farm would use the same type of technology dispatched on a great area in a low voltage infrastructure. High voltage infrastructure would remain along the existing transmission line and would not increase health risks.
Solar farms create no noise during operations apart from the normal noise you would have anywhere during daytime hours.
- For an adjoining landowner to have any liability for fires that have spread from their property to the solar farm, it has to be demonstrated that the landowner was negligent in causing damage.
- The occurrence of a fire from a weather event (e.g. a lightning strike) that migrates from the landowner property to Neoen property would not necessarily create a legal liability for the landowner, likewise if there was a heavy rainfall event and water drained from an adjoining property to Neoen facility this again is not necessarily a negligent act of the landowner.