Cat’s® first solar plant in action on Australian soil
11,040 Cat® PV solar modules are mounted on fixed axis steel frames contouring the challenging terrain of the Adelaide foothills. In this innovative first-of-its-kind project combining solar and methane gas in an energy production farm, Energy Power Systems Australia (EPSA) was engaged by Joule Energy (a wholly-owned subsidiary of LMS Energy) in their partnership with Northern Adelaide Waste Management Authority (NAWMA). EPSA provided a turnkey solution comprising engineering, design, construction and commissioning for the 1.15MW (ac) PV solar plant, which is utilising the unused portion of land next to the Uleybury Landfill site as a solar farm. The plant captures energy from the sun and converts it directly to DC power. A solar inverter then converts the power to AC electricity. The power is then exported to the national grid through an interconnect shared with the Cat® gas genset. The waste creates methane gas formed by the breaking down of organics in the garbage and the Cat® gas generator converts this methane into electricity that’s been successfully exporting green energy into the South Australian grid since it was commissioned in late-October 2017.
The collective electricity generated from both the landfill gas and solar sources is expected to be over 11,000 megawatt hours per annum of renewable energy – enough to power more than 1,900 homes in South Australia 24/7.1 When compared to a traditional coal-fired power station generating the same amount of electricity, the NAWMA renewable energy facility will save approximately 24 million litres of water each year and prevent the emission of around 63,500 tonnes of carbon.
The PV solar modules are arranged into 46 mini power blocks each feeding a dedicated 25kW (SMA) inverter, says EPSA’s Microgrid & Hybrid Segment Manager, Ron Hall.
“The strings are then combined into three separate arrays, with AC output from each collected to supply the EPSA-supplied HV transformer kiosk. The kiosk transforms the voltage to 11,000V AC for supply to the grid via the client-operated power station. Control of the plant is achieved using the 4G wireless network to communicate between the power station and a Cat® (SMA) Cluster Controller, which relays the information back and forth to each of the 46 inverters. The controller includes a web-connected online portal to provide the client with up-to-date information on the solar plant status including current plant output, daily yield and alarms.
“Since this solar plant is exporting to the grid, the grid voltage is effected with higher export values. To counter the ever-growing problem of grid voltage stability, the solar plant is able to dynamically change the output power factor to import or export 100 per cent of the plant’s output in reactive power in a trade-off for active power meaning that the plant can help stabilise the local grid voltage throughout the day.”
Landfills have very little utility once capped, due to issues of land settlement and landfill gas, making them ideal locations for solar development. Solar generation systems on landfills, and adjacent buffer zones, provide an economically viable reuse for sites that may have significant clean-up costs and little potential for commercial or residential redevelopment. Installing such systems, does present a series of unique challenges.
EPSA are at the forefront of working with innovative organisations committed to the development and facilitation of renewable sources of energy alternative ways to provide power generation – especially at a time when energy prices and grid stability are so precarious, says Managing Director, Phil Canning.
“We’re also proud to be associated with Caterpillar® and deliver Cat® power systems. Caterpillar® is continually researching, developing and delivering purposefully alternative energy gas generation products and are leading the integration of renewable power with smart energy storage and conventional diesel or gas-fuelled power generation.”