Windlab confirms the final stages of testing the Kennedy Energy Park, a solar-wind hybrid project that is going to join the strengths of both spheres. After years of delays, the project is finally approaching the stage of full operation.

The facility and its prospects

The whole thing indeed looks like the renewable energy dream to come true for the Australian market. The Kennedy Energy park is located in Flinders Shire, Queensland and is hoped to provide significant economic benefit for the region. The park was completed in 2018 and it was the world’s first utility-scale project combining solar, wind and storage. The park combines 43 MW of wind, 15 MW of solar, and a 2 MW/4 MWh battery. However, since its completion, the park’s operation has been delayed due to legal and technical challenges.

The location of the park was selected due to the area’s high solar irradiance. In Flinders Shire on a typical day the solar energy ramps up in the morning. However, in the evening when the sun sets down, the wind power increases and it continues to generate power throughout the night. This wind and solar combination prevent the intermittent processes of low power generation in cases of using only solar and wind energy.

The energy plant is developed jointly by Windlab, a global renewable energy development company, and Japanese energy company Eurus Energy. The project already secured a 10-year power purchase agreement with Queensland’s CS Energy. It goes well with Windlab’s plans to deliver around 20% of renewable energy in Australia.

The Kennedy Energy park is currently in the final testing stages and should go live in early 2023. After the initial tests, the facility is now fully authorized to work at 25 MW capacity. Such capacity allows the park to export 80% of the energy expected to be generated at its full 50MW capacity.

Hybrid renewable energy market

However, hybrid renewable energy plants are not a new phenomenon. For the past few years, they keep springing up all across the globe where weather conditions are beneficial for such projects. In Western Minnesota, a 5 million dollars worth solar/wind power plant was installed in 2019. It runs 500 kW of solar power through the inverter of a 2 MW wind turbine. Such utility plants are also present in India and China.

Solar and wind are not the only combination used in the hybrid renewable energy market. Other frequent combos include hydro and wind, solar PV and solar thermal, wind/hydrogen, wind/diesel and other systems. There are also possibilities to use three sources to boost the resulting energy even more, for example, by adding wave energy to solar and wind plants.