Project & Technology
How does solar generation work?
What technology does Neoen use to build its solar farms?
Neoen’s projects use premium quality panels, inverters 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.
Why is a battery included in Neoen’s proposal?
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.
How long does it take to build a solar farm?
What is the life cycle of a solar farm?
How long will the batteries last?
Temperature is also a key factor on the overall life of the battery cell, which is why the battery integrates multiple HVAC cooling units to regulate the operating temperature of the system to ensure it stays within the optimal temperature envelope to maximise cell life.
How high are solar panels?
Will the solar panels generate glare?
Because of these innovations in AR coatings and detailed research solar panel installations are now commonly found in airports around the world where any issue of glare would be highly scrutinised. For example, the Adelaide airport now has 5,000 solar panels with a capacity of 1.28 MW on the roof of the terminal and car park.
Where is the site and what route will large vehicles utilise?
The majority of plant construction activity is expected to be delivered from the south along Olympic Highway.
A detailed Traffic Impact Assessment and Management Plan has been undertaken by Neoen in the Development Application.
Will the batteries end up in landfill once their capacity is diminished?
With lithium-ion batteries and PV modules forming the critical asset components, Neoen values commitments made by Tesla to recover recycle all returned battery packs and modules. This equates to over 60% of the battery materials being recovered for reuse, such as cobalt and nickel. In addition, up to 90% of the solar module’s weight can be recycled, such as the glass, aluminium, and plastics.
With respect to the project’s battery, Neoen stipulates in the supply contract that the original battery manufacturer, such as Tesla, will be required to implement this recovery and recycling scheme. Within this recovery process, an assessment of the batteries capacity and health will determine if the manufacturer disposes it, recycles the valuable metals, or preparing for reuse in a ‘2nd-life application’.
Important measures are developing in the battery value stream prior to recycling and disposal that extend the useful life of the battery cells beyond the original Project’s use case. The project’s batteries shall have an original design life and performance specification that after significant use and cycling over many years will no longer meet the original performance specifications due to degradation. However, these battery cells will still possess useful capacity that can be used in ‘2nd-life applications’ that require less-frequent battery cycling (charge/discharge).
An example of an alternative use case is in ‘standby back-up’ power systems that require less cycling and capacity than Neoen’s primary use case via the Project. This is exemplified by the Arena project at Amsterdam’s soccer stadium (Nissan, 2018). This development indicates the industry’s progress in repurposing lithium-ion batteries from previous applications and matches them with an second alternative use case.
Do solar farms benefit the Australian/regional/local economy?
How much do renewables cost compared with other energy sources?
- Existing coal: approximately $40 per megawatt hour
- Combined gas-cycle generation: approximately $75 per megawatt hour
- New coal: approximately $130 per megawatt hour
Neoen pays for any electrical transmission upgrades necessary to connect and operate the project in the electricity grid. This includes construction and maintenance costs for the life of the project.
Do solar farms result in a decrease in electricity prices?
Does Neoen require government subsidies to build its projects?
Who assesses the projects?
Should I expect the value of my near-by property to decrease due to the project’s development?
However, Neoen is not aware of, and has not been presented with, any reliable, impartial research or evidence which establishes a correlation between real estate values and proximity to renewable infrastructure. Anecdotally, property values around several of our sites have increased.
The most recent and relevant study carried out in Australia was commissioned by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and published by planning consultancy Urbis in July 20161 This report comprised both an analysis of available sales data and a ‘literature review’ of Australian and international studies (including a 2009 report prepared for the NSW Valuer-General’s office). Its conclusions are most easily understood when divided into ‘agricultural’ and ‘lifestyle’ land.
Whilst property values are influenced by a range of factors and it is therefore difficult to determine if solar farms (or other similar infrastructure) can cause land values on neighbouring agriculture properties to increase or decrease, it is not expected that the Culcairn Solar Farm would affect the productivity of neighbouring agricultural properties.
What are the insurance implications for my nearby property and for the project regarding my property and the broader community?
The Environmental Management Strategy will include obligations that prevent the spread of fire across the site (such as grass cutting and an asset protection zone if required).
Neoen understands the concern of adjoining landowners regarding potential damage to a Neoen facility, however, the important elements for consideration are:
- 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 occurance 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.
In summary, Neoen has its own insurance and would seem to make claim on that first in the event of fire damage to the solar farm, however Neoen recommends that farmers on nearby properties take all maximum precautions to prevent the ignition and spreading of fires, and seek advice from their insurance providers on individual insurance policy matters.
Health & Culture
Are there any health risks associated with solar farms?
Is there any risk of chemical leaks from the solar PV?
Can solar farms’ noise affect local residents?
Will the project reduce air quality?
Visual observation of machinery is undertaken during site inspections in addition to daily pre-start checks which ensure all machinery has appropriate emission control devices, is in good working order and is maintained correctly.
Trucks that spray water to suppress dust will be utilised when required to reduce the impact of dust from the various truck deliveries throughout the construction phase.
Is cultural heritage taken into consideration?
Do solar farms impact on flora and fauna?
On all of our projects, we aim to minimise the impact on flora and fauna by designing projects to be constructed outside areas of high conservation significance and adopting control measures during the construction process. Pre-existing patches of vegetation are retained.
Other mitigation measures include preparing management plans, identifying ‘no-go zones’ within the project site and conducting pre-clearance surveys. Neoen also consults with government departments of environment and biodiversity throughout the development, construction and operational stages of projects, as well as local non-government organisations.
Do solar farms affect farm/domestic animals?
Sheep take a couple of days to get used to the site, and then are very comfortable with them – they use the shade from the solar arrays during summer.
Culcairn SF will be able to carry over 10,000 sheep that will graze within the project site; in and around the solar panels.
How do you stop the solar facilities from impacting our landscape?
Overall, we consider that the immediate and long-term benefits which solar farms bring to communities offset any loss of visual amenity.
How does Neoen manage solar panels after they are decommissioned and no longer in use?
Neoen is committed to Project Custodian responsibilities and will ideally implement such recycling practices with a local company, such as Reclaim PV Recycling. Based in Adelaide, Reclaim PV offers a solar waste management/resource recovery solution. This includes logistics and recycling of PV modules, inverters and batteries.