One of the biggest solar and battery storage projects planned for Australia, the Solar River facility in South Australia, says it is still confident of reaching financial close despite the loss of a long term contract with utility Alinta Energy.
The now Hong Kong owned Alinta signed up for a 15-year contract last July to take three quarters of the output from Solar River – which is proposed to combine a 200MW solar farm with a 100MW/300MWh batteries, one of the biggest not the world.
GE was later signed up as the technology provider for the battery, and the project was expected to begin construction by the end of 2019, with completion scheduled for 2021.
However, an Alinta spokesperson told RenewEconomy that the contract with Solar River expired earlier this year because the project failed to advance.
One of the complications, RenewEconomy understands, is the withdrawal of Downer from EPC contracting in the solar industry, because it no longer wants to take the risk of delays and connection issues that have plagued many solar farms and caused big losses to both contractors and developers. “We’re out”, Downer declared late last year after accumulating losses on some other contracts, and others follows.
RenewEconomy understands that Solar River, being developed by Jason May and Richard Winter, and located near Robertstown, next to the South Australian end of the proposed new transmission link to NSW, is looking to announce a new off take agreement soon as well as financial close. It will also need to announce a new contractor, with construction expected to begin by the end of the year.
GE said when it was announced as the supplier and integrator of the battery component that Solar River Project was a flagship for the renewables industry and for GE’s role in building hybrid plants.
“Hybrid solutions have become a reality, driven by the demand for reliable and dispatchable renewable energy, which we can integrate using our proprietary controls technology to optimize asset and customer outcomes,” Prakash Chandra, the chief of renewable hybrids at GE Renewable Energy, said in a statement.