Using proprietary technology that tracks market price signals to automate the storage and transmission of energy, Flow Power has switched on a groundbreaking smart solar farm in the South Australian town of Berri by the Murray River with the capacity to power up to 4,000 homes per year.
Melbourne-based Flow Power expects the Berri Energy Project will export 11,500 MWh of clean solar energy to the grid annually, saving around 7,800 tonnes of carbon each year.
Located 240km northeast of Adelaide, the site's 9,800 new solar panels and 18 battery racks sit on top of a former racecourse, accompanied by technology that the energy innovator and retailer claims to be the first of its kind to be operationalised in Australia
Featuring a 5.8MW single axis tracking solar photovoltaic (PV) system with 6.7MWh of DC-coupled Battery Energy Storage System (BESS), the site can be run as a standard solar farm when demand and prices are low, while simultaneously charging the batteries.
In contrast, when demand and prices are high, the batteries can then be turned on to export energy back to the grid.
The project draws upon world-leading technology from numerous global companies such as Canadian Solar, SMA, Nextracker and CATL, but it also harnesses Flow Power's proprietary kWatch Controller, which enables users to remotely respond to market price signals, optimising and automating the management of energy systems.
The site is also equipped with Frequency Control Ancillary Services (FCAS) technology to support the network and ultimately help to prevent blackouts and outages.
Flow Power COO Byron Serjeanston described the launch of commercial operations as “an exciting milestone as our first storage project and one of the first demonstrations of utility-scale DC-coupled storage in Australia".
"Rolling this tech out is a big step forward and we expect to see many more like it in the future. By offering the choice to store or export power depending on market conditions, the Berri site is making renewables more flexible and ultimately more competitive in our transforming energy market," Serjeanston said.
The Berri Energy Project brings the fast-growing retailer’s total renewable energy portfolio close to 450MW of owned and contracted wind, solar and storage projects.
"As an energy retailer, Flow Power has an important ability, and responsibility, to play a leading role in accelerating the renewable energy transition. We see the power and economics of customer-side participation and energy storage as essential to supporting new renewable energy generation entering the market,” the COO said.
"This project showcases the hard work and success of our team, suppliers, contractors and network operator SAPN in reaching Commercial Operations, as well as the innovative new renewable energy retail solutions Flow Power is able to provide to our customers."
The project has also established a community fund, donating $190,000 over the project’s lifetime to support local and South Australian initiatives. These initiatives will include expanded access to renewable energy in the region, environmental initiatives and support for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education opportunities.
Founded in 2009 by energy industry veteran Matthew van der Linden, Flow Power was originally known as energy retailer Progressive Green Energy before the name was changed in 2017. Now with more than 100 staff nationwide, the company addresses the needs of commercial and industrial energy users across the National Electricity Market (NEM), which covers South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland.
Flow Power has 16 solar and wind projects around the country including Victoria's largest solar farm in Ouyen which has the capacity to power more than 133,500 homes, the Bomen Solar Farm in Wagga Wagga, NSW, the Clermont Solar Farm in a traditionally coal industry-focused part of Queensland, and the Goyder South Wind Farm in Burra, SA.
Earlier this year, the company started an agreement to help Newcastle Airport go 100 per cent renewable.
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